NEW South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell and Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian this week announced 'Sydney's Rail Future', which includes new timetables, a second Harbour rail crossing, single-deck trains on the North West Rail Link and new CBD stations.
Mr O'Farrell said train travellers will get more frequent services and increased train capacity as a result of the changes, with the benefits to extend from Sydney to the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Newcastle and the Illawarra.
Under the plan, Sydney's rail network would operate as a three-tiered system: Rapid Transit, Suburban and Intercity. Rapid Transit routes would feature single-deck trains and 'turn up and go' services, while Suburban and Intercity routes would provide double-deck trains and timetabled services.
"This is a long-term transformation of our rail network – introducing rapid transit to the system to deliver major increases in capacity and frequency for greater Sydney," Mr O'Farrell said of the plan, which will be part of the draft NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan, due for release later this year.
It is expected the changes will result in a more than a 60 per cent increase in the number of trains that can run to the CBD and increase capacity from areas including Western Sydney and South West Sydney.
According to the government, Sydney's Rail Future includes:
- Immediate benefits from next year, with more services across the rail network because of the new timetable;
- The introduction of new single-deck, high-frequency trains on the North West Rail Link that will initially run through to Chatswood via Epping, on the existing line that will be converted for single deck trains;
- The line to be operated by the private sector, with timetables and fares to be set by the government in line with the rest of the network;
- Planning work to start for a second heavy rail crossing which will be constructed under Sydney Harbour and the CBD linking the North West to the city;
- New CBD railway stations on the new line, to ease congestion at existing city stations such as Wynyard and Town Hall; and
- The conversion of the existing Bankstown Line, and the Illawarra Line between the CBD and Hurstville to allow for the fast, single-deck train services.
Ms Berejiklian said the NSW Government released its rail vision so that a multi-billion dollar construction tender process for the North West Rail Link, including 15.5 kilometres of tunnels, can begin next week.
"We are getting on with building the North West Rail Link and when we brief industry next Tuesday about the multi-billion dollar construction tender, we will now be able to tell them our longer term vision for the future of rail and how the North West Rail Link will be integrated with the network," she said.
Ms Berejiklian said planning work will soon commence for the second Harbour crossing and new rail line through the CBD.
"This work, along with passenger demand over the coming years, will help determine a timeframe for this project in the longer term."
More details about Sydney's Rail Future are available from the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan website at <http://www.transportmasterplan.nsw.gov.au/>.