South Coast Railway Improvements

 
  nswtrains Chief Commissioner

The roads people got it easy - they were able to do it with a bridge, something that won't really work with rail.


A bridge won't really work with rail????

Do you have engineering qualifications?
Or can you provide a web link to support this claim?

I think you statement claiming a rail bridge can't be done is simply garbage, until proven otherwise.

A sea bridge could be built for the railway. Of course it would cost huge amount of dollars, but I would think a 15km sea bridge / sky rail is cheaper than a 15km tunnel.
The sea bridge would start just south of the clifton tunnel / sea cliff road bridge. It would go past Stanwell Park Beach and go back over land near Bulgo Beach / Otford Lookout. The bridge would then have to continue to just south of Waterfall station. I measured it at approx 15km long. The bridge would save about 15-20 minutes travel time.

Some people will try and say a rail bridge over the sea can't be done. If there is evidence the geology of the seabed is unstable, then yes I agree it's not possible. If its possible to build Hong Kong-Zhuhai bridge then it is possible to build this bridge as well.
tom9876543
It would be a visual eyesore marring a beautiful coastline. Not on.

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  billybaxter Chief Commissioner

Location: Bosnia Park, Fairfield
Would be fun to ride during an East coast low.
  tonyp Chief Commissioner

Location: Shoalhaven
It's certainly not impossible, but I think there are a coupe of issues. One is that part of its potential footprint is occupied by the Seacliff bridge. A pity they couldn't have thought ahead and designed a road-rail bridge. The other issue is that, whereas that Hong Kong bridge seems to be in a fairly placid marine environment, the south coast gets smashed by the Tasman Sea which, in full force, is very powerful, leading to potential damage and service interruption. Either way, it's all subject to geological studies.

It seems to me that the drift of things here is the the Waterfall-Thirroul section of the line will be a difficult one to solve. There will doubtless be a solution but it will be expensive and government has so far shied away from tackling it. The best path for discussion in the shorter term is to look at performance along the potentially fast sections of the line (which actually constitute about 80% of its length) between Sydney and Waterfall and between Thirroul and Bomaderry. These sections, which contain nothing serious in curvature or gradient that would inhibit the performance of electric trains, are presently run waaaay too slowly. How to fix that?
  simstrain Chief Commissioner


We are not talking new stations which are obviously built in high density areas with all the bells and whistles, we are talking about the issues of upgrading older stations with very small patronage, say less than 100 per day and avoiding DAA compliance where economically it simply doesn't stack up.
RTT_Rules

Yeah we are talking about new stations. That was the whole original point bought up by someone on this topic as to why we don't have more new stations. Older stations obviously have grandfather clauses but anything that is done to them in regards to upgrades must be DDA compliant. Whether that means lifts or fixing the ramp grade.

Anyway back to topic I think duplicating to shellharbour should solve many issues south of Wollongong where trains are waiting for other trains on the current single track sections for much longer then they should be increasing travel times.

Reducing the travel time further will require a new twin tunnel to be built. Using the old tunnels is just a silly idea as they are single tunnels for a start and nowhere near meeting the needs for a modern rail system. They also way to steep and a longer tunnel to Thirroul will help with reduced travel time for passenger and freight.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Lifts would still add a significant cost compared to a station without no lifts, a station with no lifts has no moving parts, and only needs electricity to run the lights, opal readers, and PA system.

Lets look at the most recent lines built, where stations are (in bold) and where they should also be (in normal text) but with less extravagant stations i.e: no lifts):

EAST HILLS TO GLENFIELD: East Hills, Voyager Point, Holsworthy, Wattle Grove, Glenfield
SOUTH WEST RAIL LINE: Glenfield, Bardia, Edmondson Park, Edmondson Park West, Leppington East, Leppington
NORTH WEST METRO: Epping, West Pennant Hills, Castle Hill East, Castle Hill, Showground, Norwest, Bella Vista, Parklea, Kellyville, Beaumont Hills, Rouse Hill, Tallawong

Some of these stations might get less patronage than the existing ones, and the costs of lifts might discourage their construction, but their construction would reduce car depending and discourage urban sprawl.

I'm not saying these stations should NEVER have lifts, but rather they should be opened without lifts and have the lifts added when the demand and need is there.
Ethan1395

What a load of crap. No cheap and nasties should ever be built. New stations need to be fully compliant and to say otherwise is just discrimination against the disabled. Putting stations so close to one another is no good unless you are running metro rolling stock which is the reason why these stations don't exist but lets look at some of the stations you mentioned.

Voyager point - This suburb literally came in to existence the year the east hills line was extended to Holsworthy and it wasn't planned. Do you really think they didn't build a station here because they had to include lifts.

Wattle Grove - I agree this station should exist but if you think it doesn't exist because of lifts increasing the cost of the station you are mistaken. This has more to do with the position of the station and the proximity to houses. I also think this has more to do with no room for a car park then anything to do with lifts. I have no issues with a station that has no significant car park.

Bardia. - This just shows you how prejudiced you are against the disabled. This station would still require a concourse over the rail line somewhere and it is a ridiculously short distance to Edmondson Park station. You could do more for the people of Bardia by putting in a foot / bike path so they could walk or ride to Edmondson park.

Cowpasture Road - This would be the place to put a station between Edmondson Park and Leppington. There is no way Jose that you could build a station here without having a lift as it would act as a bus interchange and to not include a lift would be borderline criminal.

West Pennant Hills - This station would require Lifts for it to even be possible to exist because the train line is so deep at this point.

All the other proposed NW stations - Your argument is mute on this because any station is going to be either underground or above ground making these stations expensive regardless of if you include a lift or not. Parklea already has the Tway doing what you propose and Beaumont hills isn't even on the rail line and it is also on the tway.
  Ethan1395 Train Controller

Location: An OSCar H Set
Lifts would still add a significant cost compared to a station without no lifts, a station with no lifts has no moving parts, and only needs electricity to run the lights, opal readers, and PA system.

Lets look at the most recent lines built, where stations are (in bold) and where they should also be (in normal text) but with less extravagant stations i.e: no lifts):

EAST HILLS TO GLENFIELD: East Hills, Voyager Point, Holsworthy, Wattle Grove, Glenfield
SOUTH WEST RAIL LINE: Glenfield, Bardia, Edmondson Park, Edmondson Park West, Leppington East, Leppington
NORTH WEST METRO: Epping, West Pennant Hills, Castle Hill East, Castle Hill, Showground, Norwest, Bella Vista, Parklea, Kellyville, Beaumont Hills, Rouse Hill, Tallawong

Some of these stations might get less patronage than the existing ones, and the costs of lifts might discourage their construction, but their construction would reduce car depending and discourage urban sprawl.

I'm not saying these stations should NEVER have lifts, but rather they should be opened without lifts and have the lifts added when the demand and need is there.

What a load of crap. No cheap and nasties should ever be built. New stations need to be fully compliant and to say otherwise is just discrimination against the disabled. Putting stations so close to one another is no good unless you are running metro rolling stock which is the reason why these stations don't exist but lets look at some of the stations you mentioned.

Voyager point - This suburb literally came in to existence the year the east hills line was extended to Holsworthy and it wasn't planned. Do you really think they didn't build a station here because they had to include lifts.

Wattle Grove - I agree this station should exist but if you think it doesn't exist because of lifts increasing the cost of the station you are mistaken. This has more to do with the position of the station and the proximity to houses. I also think this has more to do with no room for a car park then anything to do with lifts. I have no issues with a station that has no significant car park.

Bardia. - This just shows you how prejudiced you are against the disabled. This station would still require a concourse over the rail line somewhere and it is a ridiculously short distance to Edmondson Park station. You could do more for the people of Bardia by putting in a foot / bike path so they could walk or ride to Edmondson park.

Cowpasture Road - This would be the place to put a station between Edmondson Park and Leppington. There is no way Jose that you could build a station here without having a lift as it would act as a bus interchange and to not include a lift would be borderline criminal.

West Pennant Hills - This station would require Lifts for it to even be possible to exist because the train line is so deep at this point.

All the other proposed NW stations - Your argument is mute on this because any station is going to be either underground or above ground making these stations expensive regardless of if you include a lift or not. Parklea already has the Tway doing what you propose and Beaumont hills isn't even on the rail line and it is also on the tway.
simstrain
Starting to get off topic but would like to discuss this more so I created a new topic: https://www.railpage.com.au/f-p2187740.htm#2187740

Point taken regarding metro stations and Cowpasture Rd, as for Voyage Point, if the suburb came after, add the station then, I have heard it argued though that it would serve few people (but even 100 people a day would take strain off Holsworthy), it could be possible to create a business case for a small basic unmanned station (like Casula), add in the lifts and then cost may be up for debate.

Please remember personally, I also want every station to have a lift, but if that means a car is required to use public transport then that leads to this discussion.
  tonyp Chief Commissioner

Location: Shoalhaven
I'd prefer to continue with the actual topic, but I think some of you should be reading the information linked below. Note that under the DDA, all stations (and buses) must be fully compliant by 31 December 2022 and all trains and trams (which have had an exemption thus far) must be compliant by 31 December 2032. The State may seek exemptions for work that's not likely to be completed by the target dates.

https://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/projects/current-projects/tap-3

https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2011C00213
  David10 Station Master

Given that only a bit over 50% of stations are now DDA compliant, no chance of the December 2022 deadline being met, meaning exemptions will have to be granted. Or the non-compliant stations close, which obviously won't happen.
  tom9876543 Train Controller

The other issue is that, whereas that Hong Kong bridge seems to be in a fairly placid marine environment, the south coast gets smashed by the Tasman Sea
tonyp

"fairly placid marine environment".... apparently you don't know what a typhoon is:
https://qz.com/1390154/super-typhoon-mangkhut-will-test-the-hong-kong-zhuhai-macau-bridge/

tonyp, could you please stop talking rubbish?

To straighten out the railway line for 160km/h trains, apparently a tunnel is not possible due to unstable geology and mining.
So the only option is 15km sea bridge as I previously mentioned (with assumption the seabed is geologically stable).
This is all hypothetical anyway, the NSW government will never spend the $billions required.
  tom9876543 Train Controller

It would be a visual eyesore marring a beautiful coastline. Not on.
nswtrains


A valid question to raise.

People don't call the Sydney Harbor Bridge an eyesore. At the end of the day it is a coat hanger.
People don't call the Millau Viaduct in France an eyesore.

If the bridge is reasonably well designed it won't look ugly.
In fact, it may even attract some tourists to Stanwell Park to take photos of the sea bridge.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

I think a bridge out in the ocean is definetly a no go and not because of aesthetics. The seacliff bridge is amazing but none of it is actually in the ocean. A new tunnel or cutting is the only way forward.
  tonyp Chief Commissioner

Location: Shoalhaven
"fairly placid marine environment".... apparently you don't know what a typhoon is:
https://qz.com/1390154/super-typhoon-mangkhut-will-test-the-hong-kong-zhuhai-macau-bridge/

tonyp, could you please stop talking rubbish?

To straighten out the railway line for 160km/h trains, apparently a tunnel is not possible due to unstable geology and mining.
So the only option is 15km sea bridge as I previously mentioned (with assumption the seabed is geologically stable).
This is all hypothetical anyway, the NSW government will never spend the $billions required.
tom9876543
Even if a bridge survives the elements, services would be interrupted in powerful storms. A relatively straight tunnel is possible at the ocean edge, subject to geological survey. It's only not possible further back under the scree slopes and over the mining.
  UpperQuad Locomotive Fireman

Location: 184.8 miles to Sydney
not possible further back under the scree slopes and over the mining
tonyp
Are you sure about that?
  tonyp Chief Commissioner

Location: Shoalhaven
Are you sure about that?
UpperQuad
It's basically dealing with unstable ground and all the reports I've read over the years support that. Maybe some engineering methods have been developed in more recent times to help overcome that and I'm sure the next investigation, when it comes, will look at all the latest knowledge.

There are two very severe issues - mine subsidence and massive scree slopes being constantly eroded by the sea. Personally I wouldn't build a house there, let alone a railway. Everything there - roads, railway and buildings - is living on gambler's odds that something won't happen. The railway is now heavily monitored, so it's safe on a daily basis for now. I can understand them baulking at addressing it, it's a massive and costly project.  

Possible, outside the square, solutions that come to my mind are sending the freight via Maldon-Dombarton and extending the proposed Illawarra metro line underground from Miranda to Wollongong. That would of course create the issue of everybody from further south having to change trains. For some no doubt, the inconvenience of that would not offset the quicker journey time (which would be about 50-55 minutes Wollongong-Central).
  tonyp Chief Commissioner

Location: Shoalhaven
Just extending my thinking after doing some calculations. An alternative to the notion of extending metro from Miranda is trying something similar with the current system, thus enabling use of the interurban trains and an unbroken journey to the whole south coast. The journey would be a little slower but is still likely to come near the objective of cutting half an hour off the Wollongong trip.

The main issue is getting the line down low enough to run at or just below sea level at the ocean edge (in stable solid rock) but without gradients too severe for the heavier double deck trains. From Thirroul, this shouldn't be too much problem as Thirroul is only 14 metres above sea level and there is likely enough distance to the north to get the line down to sea level fairly quickly. From Waterfall, it's a different issue, as Waterfall is the highest station on the Sydney system at 226 metres. The objective there is to get a line as straight as possible down to sea level at Stanwell Park, while avoiding the Metropolitan Colliery undermining. This would involve a gentle curving to the east passing near Lilyvale and Otford (but deep underneath them), which I estimate would be about 11 to 12 km long to Stanwell Park. It would be possible to get a better run on it by leaving the main line at Heathcote or Engadine, but either way it should be possible if some value is placed on maintaining a service to Waterfall. The gradient should be fine for electric trains.

Naturally this comes at a price. All of the stations between Waterfall and Thirroul, except perhaps Stanwell Park (either surface or underground there), would lose their train service and would have to be serviced by bus. This would affect about 9,000 people, not including Stanwell Park, mainly in Helensburgh. So there are some priorities to choose between there and a tough one for the politicians who may win or lose seats out of the inevitable controversy. (Retaining the existing line as far as Helensburgh or Stanwell Park for suburban trains may be a compromise.) Anyway, that's my tuppence for the thinking pool.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

The double deck trains can handle the gradient. It is freight which would dictate the gradient. Diesel freight trains via Maldon to Dombarton isn't going to happen regardless of what options are available for such to occur.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
The double deck trains can handle the gradient. It is freight which would dictate the gradient. Diesel freight trains via Maldon to Dombarton isn't going to happen regardless of what options are available for such to occur.
"simstrain"


Correction

"No trains via Maldon to Dombarton isn't going to happen regardless of what options are available for such to occur"
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

The double deck trains can handle the gradient. It is freight which would dictate the gradient. Diesel freight trains via Maldon to Dombarton isn't going to happen regardless of what options are available for such to occur.


Correction

"No trains via Maldon to Dombarton isn't going to happen regardless of what options are available for such to occur"
RTT_Rules

No reason electric or hybrid freights couldn't happen.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
The double deck trains can handle the gradient. It is freight which would dictate the gradient. Diesel freight trains via Maldon to Dombarton isn't going to happen regardless of what options are available for such to occur.


Correction

"No trains via Maldon to Dombarton isn't going to happen regardless of what options are available for such to occur"

No reason electric or hybrid freights couldn't happen.
simstrain
As neither of these traction options will be used for freight outside Qld CQ coal for the foreseeable future, should the M-D line again see the light of day there is no technical or safety reason why diesel traction cannot and will not be used, as was proposed during the project review study under Howard.
  tonyp Chief Commissioner

Location: Shoalhaven
The question is whether you could run diesel freights through an approx 22 km tunnel (Thirroul-Waterfall) or would you need to open the M-D or keep the existing line for them? All very costly solutions which I'm sure are being examined by the government's intercity study team.

It's a problem so complex that no public discussion forum will come up with a simple answer, but my other point is that, in the meantime, we should be looking at the 80% of the line that is pretty straight and free of severe grades (for electric trains) - the sections between Bomaderry and Thirroul and between Waterfall and Central. I've done a bit of analysis in the past applying either Sydney metro or Perth system timings (both pretty identical per distance per number of stops) to these sections and this tells me that Sydney-Waterfall (38 km) could be taking about 40 minutes on a suburban (no interurban trains stop there) and Thirroul-Bombo (47 km) about 40 minutes on an interurban. The present journey times for these sections are about 50 minutes in both cases and you can understand why when you ride them. They amble along like Browns cows, hang around stations, accelerate and decelerate slowly etc.

I agree that full duplication south of Coniston would help, but the point is that these slow journey times also happen on the duplicated line to the north. The trains still amble. That's the big issue - the lack of performance of the existing trains. How to solve that?
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
The question is whether you could run diesel freights through an approx 22 km tunnel (Thirroul-Waterfall) or would you need to open the M-D or keep the existing line for them? All very costly solutions which I'm sure are being examined by the government's intercity study team.

It's a problem so complex that no public discussion forum will come up with a simple answer, but my other point is that, in the meantime, we should be looking at the 80% of the line that is pretty straight and free of severe grades (for electric trains) - the sections between Bomaderry and Thirroul and between Waterfall and Central. I've done a bit of analysis in the past applying either Sydney metro or Perth system timings (both pretty identical per distance per number of stops) to these sections and this tells me that Sydney-Waterfall (38 km) could be taking about 40 minutes on a suburban (no interurban trains stop there) and Thirroul-Bombo (47 km) about 40 minutes on an interurban. The present journey times for these sections are about 50 minutes in both cases and you can understand why when you ride them. They amble along like Browns cows, hang around stations, accelerate and decelerate slowly etc.

I agree that full duplication south of Coniston would help, but the point is that these slow journey times also happen on the duplicated line to the north. The trains still amble. That's the big issue - the lack of performance of the existing trains. How to solve that?
tonyp
With the existing line in place and the tunnels mainly built for the commuter traffic, I wouldn't have thought the tunnels need to be built for diesel traction, maybe going down hill is ok (no idea), but why when the existing line can effectively become the Sth Coast Freight Line.
  a6et Minister for Railways

The question is whether you could run diesel freights through an approx 22 km tunnel (Thirroul-Waterfall) or would you need to open the M-D or keep the existing line for them? All very costly solutions which I'm sure are being examined by the government's intercity study team.

It's a problem so complex that no public discussion forum will come up with a simple answer, but my other point is that, in the meantime, we should be looking at the 80% of the line that is pretty straight and free of severe grades (for electric trains) - the sections between Bomaderry and Thirroul and between Waterfall and Central. I've done a bit of analysis in the past applying either Sydney metro or Perth system timings (both pretty identical per distance per number of stops) to these sections and this tells me that Sydney-Waterfall (38 km) could be taking about 40 minutes on a suburban (no interurban trains stop there) and Thirroul-Bombo (47 km) about 40 minutes on an interurban. The present journey times for these sections are about 50 minutes in both cases and you can understand why when you ride them. They amble along like Browns cows, hang around stations, accelerate and decelerate slowly etc.

I agree that full duplication south of Coniston would help, but the point is that these slow journey times also happen on the duplicated line to the north. The trains still amble. That's the big issue - the lack of performance of the existing trains. How to solve that?
With the existing line in place and the tunnels mainly built for the commuter traffic, I wouldn't have thought the tunnels need to be built for diesel traction, maybe going down hill is ok (no idea), but why when the existing line can effectively become the Sth Coast Freight Line.
RTT_Rules
You could not rule out the aspect that ARTC or other would want use of line if they wanted a complete shutdown on the other one for extended maintenance/track work.

Thing is with diesel operations and loaded trains on the down hill grades, the primary training these days appears to be that rather than the use of air brakes for control of the train, Dynamic brakes are used especially on loaded trains, the efficiency of that sort of operation and power of the modern generation of diesels means that a train can be pretty much brought to a stand with the use of the dyno's exclusively.  I have nil idea regarding the working of steel trains and the like from Port Kembla heading north, but unlike my time when we had 48's as the primary up loco's heading to Enfield with max loads 1350tonnes and usually at least 3 such trains in the evening, most likely only one train would be the norm these days.

The aspect regarding the current line is that of the curves from memory, all those curves were in the main 60-80Km/h closing to 55 around the Lilydale area, I will look up my old WTT's to see what they were.

Another aspect that I have noticed these days is the amount of clearance that is generally found between the track and any cuttings or embankments, when the 81's were first brought to WCK when after I had transferred there, it was incredible the ground vibration that they created, something pointed out to me by the signalman at Pangella where we sat waiting for a down train to arrive, I was in the box and felt the floor vibrating, the signalman said there was an 81 on that down train, as it got closer and you could hear it the vibration was quite high. During that time and their use over the range there were quite a number of locations where the embankment sides would have rocks of different sizes dislodge and roll down to the side of the cuttings/embankments.

Using Google Earth, I can see a fair amount of widening has been carried out, no doubt much as a result of the O/head going up and needs for road vehicle access.  Similar work is on show on the Short North as well.

If one considers the way trains work to/from the SC, the primary loaded trains are on the down while empties on the up, with a few loaded ones thrown in on the up.  With that into consideration and even on the M-D line the same would apply, the up loaded would have dynamic brakes for all the trains going down the line, and at regulated speeds.  Empties would go up much faster, and depending on how many donks were up front, it would be possible to drop at least one off line, moreso the last one in the consist as was done on the Ulan line in the early 81class days before the air intakes were improved/relocated.

As I look at the aerial view high enough to show the M-D line, also the prospect of the Metro from Carlton - Miranda - ? and a new line from Waterfall to connect where I believe would be the ideal spot to be just north of Austimer or Thiroul, given the overall costs especially between the Metro & HR project I would suspect that the HR would work out the least cost.  

Either project will be expensive and has the advantages of removing many cars off the roads one thing for sure though, I will not see any of those projects started let alone finished.

One thing that would also a priority would be the realignment as far as a new station for Helensburgh, that would mean a much straighter line from Waterfall which would save a lot of time for both passenger and freight services.  Helensburgh is pretty much a growing area as against Waterfall and other stations from there to Central.
  tonyp Chief Commissioner

Location: Shoalhaven
I reckon vibration would be just the thing you want in that geological environment! I suspect a metro tunnel would be cheaper to build per km (smaller profile), but it would extend between Miranda and Wollongong whereas the alternative would have to only join two ends of the existing line at Waterfall and Thirroul.

There are also Manildra trains on the line too.

What I was thinking about use of diesels in such a long tunnel is not gradients but the issue of ventilation.

I agree with you that I don't think I would see such a project in my lifetime either, even though this government is pretty gung-ho and supported by the Feds, so anything could happen. I think, as I said, there is a great need to focus on the performance on the great majority of the line, which is north of Waterfall and south of Thirroul. That's abysmal at present.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Your assumption is wrong and based on an assumption that Port Kembla is a one way port A6ET. Not only that but you have rail traffic that isn't just Port related running through the area to Bomaderry and other places south of Wollongong that send loaded traffic back up the mountains.

There are also the steel trains that have to climb.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Your assumption is wrong and based on an assumption that Port Kembla is a one way port A6ET. Not only that but you have rail traffic that isn't just Port related running through the area to Bomaderry and other places south of Wollongong that send loaded traffic back up the mountains.

There are also the steel trains that have to climb.
simstrain
Sims, yes I know there is other freight services on the coast, worked enough of them in my time..

The difference with Bomaderry is marked by the aspect of no longer milk, Co-op loading and the Petrol, also there was grain and other products that went out along the branch as well, don't believe any of that traffic is still going there.  Nor is there any metal on rail ex Bombo, not sure about Dunmore though.

While there is still loading that goes up the mountain, my post was primarily referring to the Waterfall (Central) to the Gong with some references to the M-D line.

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