THE STATE OF NEW SOUTH WALES EMBARKS ON 88 RAILWAY PROJECTS IN WHICH METROPOLITAN RAIL, TRAMWAYS AND COMMUTER RAIL PROGRAMMES TAKE CENTRE STAGE. ALL OF THEM ARE PART OF THE LARGEST STATE INFRASTRUCTURE PROGRAMME.
New South Wales has the largest transport infrastructure programme underway in its history, endowed with 55.6 billion Australian dollars of investment (34.234 billion euros). Within this plan, which is part of the “Four-year capital programme 2019-2023”, there are more than 3,500 projects for road and rail, among which the commitment to the train (metropolitan, tramway, commuter networks) stands out.
HIGH SPEED CONNECTIONS WITH SYDNEY
The current Government of New South Wales has announced plans to build four high-speed state-of-the-art rail routes. Still in the initial study phase, the goal is to connect Sydney with the fastest growing urban centres in the region, with a direct route to Canberra in the territory of the Australian Capital.
The current plan includes links with a distance of less than 300 kilometres from Sydney to Canberra, Goulburn, Central Coast, Newcastle, Lithgow and Bathurst, the heart of Parkes (part of the Inland Rail project), Wollongong and Nowra. The proposal would see the journey time between Sydney and Canberra reduced from four hours to just one.
In a first stage, with the existing refurbishment works on the line, the trains could reach speeds of 200 kilometres per hour. In the longer term, with construction of new networks, this speed could reach 250km / h, and in some sections as much as 350km / h Which would reduce travel times by up to 75%.
IMPROVEMENT IN THE NORTH AND SOUTH CORRIDORS OF SYDNEY
The city of Sydney needs more and better rail connections, hence transport authorities have planned several extension works in the long-term.
On the one hand, the “South West Rail Link” corridor will be extended from the station at Leppington to North Bringelly in order to also connect with the Northbound Southbound line (North South Rail Line).
On the other, in this last branch a passenger link will be created between the lines of Main West near St. Marys and Main South, near MacArthur.
SYDNEY METROPOLITAN RAILWAY
The Sydney metropolitan rail network is a megaproject considered as the largest transport undertaking in Australia in the public sector. With a budget of 12 billion Australian dollars (7.474 billion euros) it will feature 31 stations and more than 66 kilometres of track. According to the planned calendar, it will be completely finalised in 2024. The development of the works has been divided into several phases.
The first stage (Sydney Metro Northwest) is a 36-kilometre underground rail network.
This section was inaugurated in May 2019 and its works have included the construction of eight new metro stations, and five improved stations. The second phase (Metro City and Southwest) is a stretch that will be 30 kilometres long and will link Chatswood Station with downtown Sydney.
Seven new stations will be included in this branch: Crows Nest, Victoria Cross, Barangaroo, Martin Place, Pitt Street, Central Station and Waterloo. Furthermore, rehabilitation works of the Bankstown line will be carried out to convert it into a section of the metropolitan railway line. This second stage has been allotted a budget of 11.5 billion ASU$ (7.08 billion euros).
Already in 2016, the Government of the state of New South Wales announced a third phase: Sydney Metro West to which 6.4 billion Australian dollars (3.986 Bn billion euros) have been allocated. This route will link the urban centres of Sydney and Parramata to the west. Works are expected to begin in 2020.
METROPOLITAN RAIL CONNECTION TO THE AIRPORT (NORTH SOUTH METRO RAIL LINK)
The metropolitan railway will reach the future Western Sydney International Airport in 2026, the forecast date for its opening. To this end, the “North South Metro Rail Link” project has been launched, which is funded by the Australian Government with 3.5 billion Australian dollars (2.155 billion euros).
Furthermore, the New South Wales executive will allocate 2 billion Australian dollars (1.231 billion euros) over the next four years to its development. The network will connect to the T1 (Western Line) line. Fully automated driverless trains will be available for operation, as is in place in the rest of the Sydney underground network.
PARRAMATA LIGHT RAIL NETWORK
The first phase of this network, scheduled for 2023, will feature 12 kilometres of track and 16 stations. The route will link the central business district and the intermodal station of Parramatta with areas of cultural interest, university campuses and social housing zones. Specifically, it will extend to the peripheral area of West mead, on the west side, to the new Bankwest Stadium, the Powerhouse cultural venue, the Riverside Theatre, as well as the residential area in Telopea, the Rosehill Gardens racecourse and three university campuses Western Sydney University.
In a second phase of nine kilometres, the light rail network will connect with the section of phase I and the city of Parramatta with Ermington, Melrose Park, Wentworth Point and Sydney Olympic Park.
It is estimated that in 2026, some 28,000 people will travel daily in this new means of transport. CAF, which is part of the Great River City Rail Light awardee consortium, formed by CAF Rail Australia and Transdev Australasia have been entrusted with the start-up of this service.
IMPROVEMENTS IN THE COMMUTER NETWORK
The Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW) authority also wishes to boost Sydney ‘s commuter lines. To achieve this, the improvement and overhaul of 815 km of network will be carried out, where new digital signaling and rail traffic management systems will be installed. Tasks to be carried out by the Ineco company.
These changes will increase by more than 60% the number of trains that access the central district of Sydney and the circulation capacity in areas such as Western Sydney and South West Sydney by up to 100,000 people per hour. The actions planned within the programme include the updating of the signaling network to ETCS level 2 and the implementation of the ATO (Automatic Train Operation) system.
One of the railway works included in the New South Wales infrastructure programme is the modernisation of the railway stations. These include the works at Yagoona, Wollstonecraft Dapto, Clarendon, Bellambi, Wauchope, Taree Station, Queanbeyan, Parkes, Narrabri, Waitara, Thornleigh Stanmore, St.Peters, Petersham, Normanhurst, Erskineville, and East Hills.
Part of the works carried out belongs to the “Transport Access Programme”, which seeks to improve the accessibility of the facilities. The budget for 2019-2020 has been increased up to 300 million Australian dollars (184.6 million euros) to provide funds to continue with these improvements.
REGIONAL TRAIN FLEET
The Government of New South Wales has signed a contract this year to design, build, finance and maintain the new regional railway fleet for the amount of 1.26 billion Australian dollars (775 million euros).
The Momentum Trains Pty Ltd. consortium, in which CAF holds a stake, will be entrusted with the supply and maintenance for a period of 15 years of the new regional train fleet. This agreement includes 29 regional diesel-electric units, two simulators, and the construction and equipment of a new maintenance depot in the town of Dubbo.
The aim is to put into service new trains that improve passenger safety and comfort for regional and interurban services to the cities of Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane. This contract is part of the “Regional Rail Fleet” programme.
NEWCASTLE LIGHT RAIL NETWORK EXTENSION
The Government of New South Wales has published a new 40-year transportation plan seen for the metropolitan area of Newcastle, the sixth most populous city in Australia. The “Greater Newcastle Future Transport Plan” is intended to double the public transport quota in 2056, which represents only 3.2% of trips during the week, and 1% on weekends.
Amongst the most significant initiatives are the expansion of the light rail network. This network, in commercial operation since February 2019, features six stations and runs CAF rolling stock. Several options are now being studied for its extension from the exchanger to Broadmeadow Station, Hunter Stadium or Mayfield.