Transportation Deployment Casebook/2018/Sydney and Intercity Rail
The Current NetworkEdit
New South Wales passenger rail is largely served by the Sydney Trains network and the NSW TrainLink intercity line. The Sydney Trains network provides passenger rail services in the Sydney metropolitan area. It is bounded by Berowra, Emu Plains, Macarthur and Waterfall. The NSW TrainLink intercity line extends these services to the Hunter, Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands and South Coast regions.
The network forms an integral component of the New South Wales public transport network. There are over 1 million customer journeys per weekday on the Sydney Trains network, showing the high capacity that this mode offers. As a transport mode, rail has the advantage of operating on a separate network, unlike cars and buses which are required to share roads. Hence, it does not have to compete for space that can be limited by congestion, especially in a highly populated area such as Sydney. Although it does not serve more than one mode, the rail lines serve more than one market: passenger services and freight services. Hence, Sydney Trains is required to work collaboratively with freight operators to minimise the impact of freight operations on passenger rail services.
A map of the Sydney Trains network is shown in Figure 1 and the intercity network is shown in Figure 2. The structure of the network shows that there is a central hub in the Sydney Central Business District (CBD). This illustrates the connectivity that the network provides for Sydney and how it increases accessibility to the greater Sydney regions, facilitating economic growth. Sydney Trains is responsible for operating and maintaining the Sydney Trains network, as well as maintenance of a large proportion of the NSW TrainLink intercity line infrastructure. These are controlled by Transport for NSW; the lead agency for transport within New South Wales that is responsible for coordination of transport policy, allocation of funding, and planning.
Transport in NSW Before RailEdit
One of the earliest forms of transport in New South Wales was water transport. In the early 1850s river transport played an important role in inland economic development and settlement. The gold rushes throughout this period caused a large growth in urban population. Inland settlers depended almost entirely on steamers to transport everything required for successful land occupation. The alternative was road transport; however, the condition of roads was very poor during this time. District councils failed to manage local roads in their area. Additionally, road transport during this period was expensive and time consuming. For example, horse-drawn mail carts in 1841 took six days to travel from Sydney to Bathurst and back. Heavy hauling work was especially expensive due to the high cost of carts needed to transport the loads. Using roads for public transport was not as popular; the bad road conditions reduced comfort on long distance trips, and it was not very affordable as the daily fare highly exceeded a skilled labourer’s weekly wage.
Therefore, river transport was the main mode for supplying towns with their needs, and to carry wool and other products of the surrounding land for trade. However, the supply of navigable rivers decreased further inland which made agriculture difficult in these areas due to the lack of access to the market. With the difficulty involved in road transport, development to these inland regions was constrained. Hence, there was a need for transport networks that could service goods transport to and from inland regions of Sydney.
The first locomotives on the railways used steam engines. These continued to be used for around a century until diesel-electric locomotives began to take over in the 1950s. This new technology had the advantage of lowering operating costs. Steam had a lower range, required more labour to maintain and run the locomotives, and needed large supplies of water. Early NSW locomotives were of British designs due to the limited local industrial capacity and the English background of railway administrators. Although American locomotives were imported in the 1870s, when the design for NSW locomotives was developed in 1889, British design principles were followed.
Electric carriages were strongly influenced by North American Practice. The first public electric train on 1 March 1926 stimulated development of the Sydney electric fleet. In 1969 the first double-deck electric train entered service. The advantage that this had over single-deck trains was the ability to double the number of passengers carried for the same length, which decreased the need for upgrades to station infrastructure to increase capacity of existing lines. By 1992 the entire suburban network used double-deck trains.
Being a large-scale network, the railways required effective communication systems for efficient operations and safe working of trains. The lack of manoeuvrability of tracks means that signalling is an important part of the operations in rail. This is combined with clear rules and regulations so that train crews know when sections of the track are available, and when they can safely proceed to the next signal. Initially, railway junctions were worked with mechanical levers and signals were operated with foot stirrups. Improvements in this system came in 1910 when automatic electro-pneumatic signals and junctions were first introduced in Sydney Railway Yard. Fully electrified signalling systems first came into use in 1937 in Newcastle, and were later applied on the Cronulla line in 1939. These systems required a form of communication which was done by telegrams in the early years, and telephone-based train control systems after that. From the 1960s the signals, junctions, and the train movements were controlled by computers through centralised train control systems .
Another important part of communication is customer information systems. The first forms of public timetables were prints in book form and large sheets in the railway printing office. Providing regular service and creating timetables were enabled by the standardisation of time. Goods sheds and parcel offices displayed rates for different categories of goods and parcels. Additionally, changes to the timetable and rates were publicised in newspapers. Larger stations featured train arrival and departure boards which were initially manually operated. In 1981 this was replaced by computer-based train information systems.
Modelling and Defining the Lifecycle PhasesEdit
The lifecycle of Sydney and Intercity rail can be defined through modelling the growth of annual patronage on the network with S-curves. Data for this was obtained from the birth of the mode in 1855 to 2016 and is displayed in Table 1. The data was collected through a table in the Bureau of Transport Statistics 2014 Train Statistics report (pg. 82) for the years 1855 – 2012 and from a graph of historical patronage on the Transport for NSW website for the years 2013-2016. These were derived from ticket sales information, as well as OPAL card data post-2013, including estimates for passengers travelling without a ticket.
A three-parameter logistic function was used to model an S-curve for the data. The equation of this was S(t) = K/[1+exp(-b(t-t0)], where:
- S(t) is the status measure, i.e. the patronage
- K is saturation status level
- t is time, i.e. the year
- t0 is the inflection time (year in which 1/2 K is achieved)
- b is a coefficient
To estimate this model, the equation was rearranged to find K, b and t0 with a single variable linear regression. Since the saturation patronage was unknown, several iterations for K were done to find the curve of best fit. The values of the parameters are displayed in Table 2.
Although this curve had the highest R-squared value of 0.836, a K-value of 395 did not fit the data very well. This is displayed in Figure 3, with the data for the graph shown in Table 3. Inaccuracies are evident in the inability of the model to predict the decline in passengers after 1955 and the subsequent regeneration of growth. The model has underestimated the recent growth and has incorrectly predicted the rate as currently slowing down. Like other mathematic models, an S-curve cannot accurately predict changes in the social, political and economic environment that can affect the deployment of a mode.
Hence, these results suggest that the lifecycle of Sydney and Intercity rail did not go through the regular birth, growth, maturity phase progression that is modelled by an S-curve. Rather, it shows that the data would be more accurately modelled through dividing the lifecycle into stages. Dates were affixed to these stages by looking at the shape of the curve for the actual patronage (seen in Figure 3) and analysing the data to observe changes such as acceleration in growth and points of inflection (e.g. change from increase to decrease). Additionally, an S-curve was modelled for the section of the data prior to the decline to assist in defining the birth, growth, and maturity phases. K was taken as 266 as this was the peak patronage for the period. This fit the data much better with an R-squared value of 0.906 showing that accuracy in modelling this section was increased by separating the data. However, this was not the curve of best fit. A K-value of 284 improved the fit to the data with a high R-squared value of 0.981. The parameters for both K-values are shown in Table 4 and a graph showing both models is displayed in Figure 4. The model for K-value 284 suggests that without the decline in lifecycle, the maturity phase would have spanned over a longer period.
The dates determined for birth, growth, maturity, decline, and regeneration of growth are displayed in Table 5. Analysis of these dates with the development of the railways and the social, economic, and political influences will assist in understanding the reason for these phases in the lifecycle.
Major Events and Policies Through the Phases of the LifecycleEdit
The Rural MarketEdit
Initially the dominant market for Sydney’s railways was goods transport from rural areas. Railways were required inland to facilitate in the growth of the local and regional economy and industries through providing cheap and efficient transport, allowing access to larger markets and enabling export through the port of Sydney. Although the population of residents in urban areas was growing, the value that colonial politics placed on rural interests meant that improving transport for metropolitan passenger transport was a lesser priority.
Construction, Expansion, and the Development of the Urban MarketEdit
Construction of the first railway track in New South Wales began in 1849. The line serviced passengers from Sydney to Paramatta. While initially the project was managed by the Sydney Railway Company, it was eventually turned over to the government on 3 September 1855 due to under-capitalisation and escalation of costs from changes in scope. The line opened on 26 September 1855 including four intermediate stations located along the line at Newtown, Ashfield, Burwood and Homebush. Both terminals for the line were initially temporary stations to reduce the capital cost of the railway as a priority of the government.
There was a boom in railway expansion during the 1860s, prompted by the economic wealth generated by the farming and pastoral industries. Rural railways were extended from Sydney across the Blue Mountains to Bathurst and across the Southern Highlands to Goulburn. The pastoral industry was established in 1815 and dominated the Australian economy by 1830. Due to this position they became the dominant political force in nineteenth century colonial New South Wales, giving them the power to shape railway policy. However, the political landscape changed in the 1890s due to the rapid increase in urban populations and the economic depression.
Railways resulted in a dramatic increase in Sydney’s population. For example, the development of suburbs in a linear fashion along main lines to Liverpool and Penrith enabled a doubling of the city’s population in 1880, relative to 1855. Urban growth was stimulated along the main rail corridors, which pressed for the need for the construction of new suburban passenger lines. Initially proposals from city-based land developers were rejected by the NSW Parliament due to powerful rural interests including the pastoral industry. However, Henry Parkes became premier in 1887, leading to the approval of the construction of a North Shore Line from Hornsby to St Leonards. This ministry saw the value of railways in transforming the social and economic landscape of the colony through stimulating development in areas that previously lacked accessibility.
The line was opened on 1 January 1890, followed by the first section of the Bankstown Line in 1895. Development of rail for metropolitan passengers began to overtake the goods transport market during this period due to the previously mentioned economic depression as well as a decade of severe drought, and as a result, Sydney’s suburban rail network expanded dramatically. The effect of the lines on land development is evidenced by the boom in land sales in the North Shore estates in the mid-1890s resulting in a rapid increase in population.
Setting Freight RatesEdit
The Department of Public Works was established in 1859. This administrative structure aimed to ensure wise investment of public funds to enable the railways to serve public interests. Railway administrators were required to make decisions on political interests such as discriminatory freight rates to favour particular industries or localities. Setting rates and fares was an important task due the common carrier nature of the railways, a policy derived from the inland water transport. Due to the economic dominance and therefore political power of the pastoral industry, the early days featured favourable rates for the carriage of wool. By the 1890s the setting of differential freight rates led to increased centralisation of industry in Sydney, as city-based manufacturers could send their products to regional centres at competitive prices.
Reform of Rail ManagementEdit
Parkes introduced railway reform bills in 1888 in an effort to increase the service of railways for the public need and reduce the influence of political interests. The two Acts that were introduced reassigned management of the railways to more competent administrators; this separated the tasks of planning and constructing railways away from the existing management network. This meant that instead of decisions being made through discussions among politicians, the Parliamentary Committee on Public Works held public enquiries to assess the viability of new proposals.
Development of the City UndergroundEdit
Suggestions for moving the Sydney terminal and extending railways into the city came as early as 1857. Without the railway, horse-drawn buses and cabs were required to transport passengers through the city to Circular Quay due to the terminal being located on the periphery of the city. Between 1908 and 1909, the Royal Commission on Communication between Sydney and North Sydney, and the Royal Commission on City Improvements, presented plans for a Sydney Harbour crossing and the construction of an extended railway network through an underground railway loop. John Job Crew Bradfield was appointed chief engineer of the project in 1914. The project was accelerated by the government passing the City and Suburban Electric Railway Bill in the following year, displaying the focus of government policies on metropolitan development. In 1926 the first section was opened, between Central and St James, and the whole loop was completed in 1956.
The Start of ElectrificationEdit
Electrification of the network was required for the construction of the loop, which led to plans for electrifying the rest of the rail network. Electrification was necessary because firstly, the old and heavy steam trains were competing with electric trams in Sydney by 1911, and secondly, slow steam trains were put under pressure from the expanding suburban area and growing patronage. The first electric trains ran on the Illawarra Line in 1926. This was the start of modernisation of the network as the new trains offered higher speeds and longer trains compared to steam. Electrification offered improvements to the North Shore line especially, as steam locomotives struggled to maintain schedules on the steep grades along the line.The process of converting lines for electric trains continued throughout the growth phase.
Competition from RoadsEdit
The 1920s saw the expansion of road transport. This presented competition for goods and passenger traffic for railways as automobiles offered private transportation, and private motor lorries and buses were able to use the public roads free of charge. Public funds were increasingly allocated to road construction instead of railways with the 1924 Bill for improvement of the road transport system and its management. In 1927, the Commissioner for Railways asked the government to consider equity in the market, reasoning that the competition caused losses in operation which resulted in burdens for State taxpayers. With the worsening of the situation through the onset of the Great Depression, in 1932 railway administrators and politicians introduced legislation that placed road tax on carriers that operated in direct competition with railways. However, this was abolished in 1973. This illustrates the ability of legislation to alter competition between modes. This was especially important for the growth phase to avoid losing market share and going into decline.
Building of new lines slowed down dramatically during the maturity phase, where there was more focus on upgrading the existing infrastructure and improving the management of the current system. This included continuation of electrifying the network such as electrification of the Western Line to Bowenfels in 1957. Service of Sydney’s first double-deck electric train started in 1969 which marked the start of the standard design for the Sydney suburban fleet. In terms of long-distance trains, the first double-deck trains ran to Gosford in 1970. These improved the network through allowing higher capacities for the same amount of space .
Increasing popularity of cars is one reason for the decline during the 1970s, however, this is not likely to have caused the major drop alone. Another factor is the management reform during this period. In 1972 the Public Transport Commission (PTC) was established to take over responsibility of all government trains, buses, and ferries in New South Wales. While the Commission was able to achieve some operating reforms, this change in management was largely opposed as the public had concerns about a perceived reduction in safety standards, and so may be responsible for the decline in ridership. Towards the end of the decline period, the Granville rail disaster in 1977 prompted government consideration of the negative effect that the PTC was having on rail. Hence, the PTC was replaced with the Urban Transit Authority and the State Rail Authority.
Regeneration of GrowthEdit
Notable Expansions and the Private SectorEdit
New investment in Sydney’s suburban railways was stimulated by the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. A new electric line and station for the Olympic Park was built as well as facilities at Homebush in 1988. The Chatswood to Epping line began construction in 2002 and opened in 2009. In recent related news, this line will be converted for integration with the Sydney Metro Northwest which is expected to open in 2019 .
The mid-1980s saw a push for private sector infrastructure financing due to increased pressures on State government finances and the introduction of the ‘new federalism’ policies in the late 1970s that reduced the contribution of Commonwealth funds to State revenues. This change has allowed a greater supply of infrastructure to be provided, therefore shaping the nature of recent developments. Projects around this stage focused on catering to growth in public transport demand. For example, traffic from the Olympics Games helped justify the construction of the New Southern Railway, connecting Central Station to Sydney Airport. Additional to the arguments for the railway was how it would promote urban consolidation along the line, showing that the effect of transport infrastructure on land use has been a value of the government throughout the lifecycle, as it was first seen during the birth phase .
Sydney's Rail FutureEdit
Sydney’s Rail Future was published in 2012, detailing plans of modernisation of Sydney’s rail network to grow with the population and meet the needs of future customers, through investment in new services and upgrades to existing infrastructure. This was prompted by recognition of Sydney’s rail system reaching capacity. It is part of the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan, a 20 year framework for the NSW transport system that integrates all modes of transport, roads and freight.
The report explains a three-tiered system to respond to different customer needs. The first is rapid transit lines. This involves frequent services that eliminate the need for consulting a timetable, as well as the use of single deck trains design for easy boarding and alighting. The second is suburban lines which will continue to use timetabled services and double deck trains to allow higher capacities. The third is intercity lines which also use double deck trains, but additionally focus on comfortable service and on-board facilities for long distance commutes.
Additionally, there is significant focus on improving existing infrastructure, with enhancements such as Automatic Train Operation to improve capacity and performance. These will be used on the rapid transit lines due to the higher efficiency in acceleration and braking that improves travel times and allows more trains to travel on the line. Hence, this report shows how current policies are focused on catering to growth of the market, needs of the market, and improving the existing network. Additionally, the construction of new networks such as the Sydney Metro Northwest show the investments in new projects that also characterise this phase.
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