Sydney CBD and South East Light Rail

 
  nswtrains Chief Commissioner

I

Service is by 2 sets linked together.  I understand there are probably MX reasons for doing this and also there might be times when a 4 car set is all that is needed, but why not add capacity and possibly lower cost by having fully connected 8 car sets, replacing the 2 driver cars in the middle with more middle cars?
They are 5 section Citadis 305 cars. (3 bogies, series X05)

The reason they are running coupled sets is passenger load predictions exceeded the capacity of the largest car that Alstom built at the time - for various reasons Alstom would only go to 7 sections or approx 44m long and they were not felt to be big enough.
So since Alstom was not keen to extend their Citadis to 9 sections, they offered coupled sets instead - something they DO have experience with (Paris, Jerusalem, Tunis, Casablanca, Rabat, and probably others)

Alstom has since agreed to build a 9 section Citadis for Dublin, but I think they are still not keen - Dublin appears to have said them to them, make a longer car or we go to another supplier who will.

Incidentally, the coupled sets running in Tunisia and Morroco don't have redundant cabs - the cars are bidirectional single-ended - they HAVE to always run in coupled back to back pairs. So there is no space or expense wasted on rarely used cabs, They DO have a hidden set of 'back up controls' in the blunt end, they just can't be operated in service that way.

The cars are not permanently coupled either - they have the standard Alstom coupler and can be uncoupled/recoupled in a few minutes - someone has to get between the cars, pull the jumper cables out, and then the coupling pins and then fold and stow the couplers. In Sydney's case, someone has to remember to bring the coupler covers over from the storage rack in the depot to complete an uncoupling operation too. Fiddly but not a difficult or complex operation.
Matthew
I have seen the Citadis units running in both Jerusalem and Casablanca and both have that warning cover between the coupled sets like Sydney. Thought I saw that somewhere else?

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  Matthew Chief Train Controller

I have seen the Citadis units running in both Jerusalem and Casablanca and both have that warning cover between the coupled sets like Sydney. Thought I saw that somewhere else?
nswtrains


Rabat, Morroco and Tunis, Tunisia.
There are probably others, i'vejust seen these in person.

In the north Africa case, the 'warning covers' have 'danger of death' written in French and Arabic.

Coupled sets in Poland (Konstal 105a cars) often have something that looks like a few runs of bungee cord between the cars on the passenger side (unidirectional cars) to discourage people from walking between the cars.

Turkey has taken the option on their Skoda cars of coupling them so close together that you can't comfortably get between the raised coupler covers - they almost touch.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
The govt will need to move quickly and perhaps call up one of the southerners to advise how to improve or worse, Qld, otherwise the new fangled toy will not be enough to wash away the tears of the last few years and good luck trying to do it again, especially Carlingford.
I think the authorities in Sydney would rather have a smeg service than ask Melbourne for advice! Cool
Lockspike
Yes, true, what would the Vic's know about running modern trams!!!
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

So this is my friends light rail video which I may or may not have a cameo in!!! No talking by the presenter. Just video along the entire route.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4Mk2owBdWU&t=1649s
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Yes, true, what would the Vic's know about running modern trams!!!
RTT_Rules

Nothing. They do however have a lot of experience with trams on an old legacy system from the late 1800's.
  route14 Chief Commissioner

which are efficient.
  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
@simstrain Aside from the power supply, what exactly is the difference?
  route14 Chief Commissioner

Melbourne trams are based on sight operation, while in Sydney, CBTC, Communication Based Traffic Control.  While it's suitable for high speed exclusive right of way operation, it makes trams unnecessarily distant and slow at street level especially when shunting.
  Matthew Chief Train Controller

Melbourne trams are based on sight operation, while in Sydney, CBTC, Communication Based Traffic Control.  While it's suitable for high speed exclusive right of way operation, it makes trams unnecessarily distant and slow at street level especially when shunting.
route14

Sydney is line of sight working most of the time too.

The Ebicab ATP (which was intermittent, reading data of balis at each block) was removed back in 2015.

It's just each set of points has a signal in front for it to indicate what it's set for and a few other locations have signals to indicate the next block is occupied or as a way enabling the control room to indicate a hold. However, in general, there are no block signals or another method of 'regulation'.

In Melbourne, drivers are supposed to stop before each points and observe the blades are correctly set. In Sydney every set of points has a proving mechanism and a signal.

The problem in Sydney is poor traffic light co-ordination, an overzealous safety committee and the relative inexperience of the staff. (Which loops - the staff on the ground are not 'trusted' to make decisions on the ground. but the control room staff are not experienced either)
  craigfitz1 Train Controller

The last paragraph about staff Inexperience rings very true.
I had to go from Randwick to central this morning, and after previous poor experiences on the tram so far, I got the 372 bus instead.
The fact that this bus is faster than the light rail to central is not good, especially as the bus has to crawl along three major roads, including the nightmare of Cleveland street. In fact this morning the bus passed (yet another) stationary tram at the racecourse with the driver out of his seat and on his radio, presumably awaiting further instruction.

Also, the much vaunted ‘turn up and go’ timetable is not matching the  reality on the ground. As more than one person has said, it is more like ‘turn up and wait’.

The operators need to get onto the whole speed thing before initial impressions of the tram as being just a novelty for those not in a hurry take permanent root.

Having to share some of the track with buses is also not helping, as I see trams being halted to allow buses to get through.

It is time they bit the bullet and brought in some experts from outside who can take a fresh look at the operation. Currently, this is not a good return on the huge investment and the government may not get much of a bang for its buck. This is a real shame, as potentially this piece of infrastructure could be a game changer for this city.
  AheadMatthewawsome Junior Train Controller

Location: Opening Train Lines
Is there any update of the new L3 Kingsford Line? And what day will it open?
  nswtrains Chief Commissioner

Is there any update of the new L3 Kingsford Line? And what day will it open?
AheadMatthewawsome
I used the light rail yesterday and illuminated signs at the stops advised March. However, the T3 line is being tested in full operational mode so I would say early March rather than later.
  Matthew Chief Train Controller

It is time they bit the bullet and brought in some experts from outside who can take a fresh look at the operation. Currently, this is not a good return on the huge investment and the government may not get much of a bang for its buck. This is a real shame, as potentially this piece of infrastructure could be a game changer for this city.
craigfitz1
There appears to be a sizable contingent in 'Transport' who WANT the light rail to fail. There is an unattributed quote floating about 'we got rid of the trams in 1961 and we don't want them back'.
Some of the people with that thinking appear to be still in the traffic light department in particular.
  SinickleBird Assistant Commissioner

Location: Qantas Club at Mudgee International Airport
Interesting that you mention the traffic light department.

There seems to be two conflicting schools of thought in that team:

Group 1. Let’s get everyone to their destination as efficiently as possible by sequencing the lights to maximise flow on the main arteries.

Group 2. If we can make traffic to flow r...e...a...l slow, we can save lives (nobody dies at 5 km/hr) and encourage people onto the public transport (thereby saving the planet). Problem with this philosophy is that much of the public transport alternative comprises buses which are both (a) crowded and (b) stuck in the same 5 km/hr quagmire.

You can readily figure out which team is on duty when on the road.
  Matthew Chief Train Controller

Interesting that you mention the traffic light department.

There seems to be two conflicting schools of thought in that team:


You can readily figure out which team is on duty when on the road.
SinickleBird

I think it's far simpler than that - they attempt to optimise only for vehicle flow with no regard to how many people may be on that vehicle. So a single-occupant car has the same weight has an articulated bus or a coupled tram set when calculating the light timings.

So 2 single-occupant cars are more important than a single coupled tram set that may have over 200 people on board. (as it's 2 vehicles vs 1 vehicle)

The RTA actually commercialised the SCATS traffic light control system and it's had sales overseas!
  Been_Benuane Junior Train Controller

Quick question;
I was told that T3 was going to open March. Obviously with the current pandemic; that's not going to happen. But does anyone know how far away it is from opening under normal circumstances?
  AheadMatthewawsome Junior Train Controller

Location: Opening Train Lines
Quick question;
I was told that T3 was going to open March. Obviously with the current pandemic; that's not going to happen. But does anyone know how far away it is from opening under normal circumstances?
Been_Benuane
It is basically ready for opening. All of the tracks, stations, and all basic stuff are all done. All that is left is some very minor work on the line, and driver training.

There has been NO recent announcement on when it is going to open. So we do not know yet if it is not going to open this month.

Best idea would be to contact Transport for NSW via email for when it might open, or if they will postpone it. I think they may give you the answer.

But it is almost certain due to heath reasons that the following things could happen. Ranking from most likely to least likely.

1. The opening is postponed until further notice.

2. They do a very soft/quiet opening.

3. They limit the number of people going to the opening.

4. They do nothing.
  Matthew Chief Train Controller

Quick question;
I was told that T3 was going to open March. Obviously with the current pandemic; that's not going to happen. But does anyone know how far away it is from opening under normal circumstances?
Been_Benuane
The line has been running a full shadow service for several weeks now. No one seems to know why the original rumoured March 13 didn't happen, as full shadow service had been operating for several weeks at that time.

Currently, there are Circular Quay to Central Chamers Street shuttles running. When they get to Central, the passengers are offloaded and the tram continues on empty and apparently does the full run to Kingsford. On the way back they become an L2 Circular Quay service at Moore Park.

Guess - they either don't yet have enough drivers to 'know the road' to be confident they can run a full service at all times, or,  my favourite is a paperwork issue with the rail regulator. An audit has picked up some issue they need to address before carrying passengers. The issue might require an infrastructure change and planning that takes time (and more money).
  route14 Chief Commissioner

Strange that they don't take passengers all the way along the shared section en-route to Kingsford.  If you have difficulty clearing passengers at Moore Park, you would have the same difficulty at Central.
  Matthew Chief Train Controller

Strange that they don't take passengers all the way along the shared section en-route to Kingsford.  If you have difficulty clearing passengers at Moore Park, you would have the same difficulty at Central.
route14
Customer Service Officers are at Central Charmers Street to direct passengers off the trams. Before they started test running to Kingsford they turned around a Circular Quay - Central shuttle service at Central. So they have just kept the people and the process the same, the CSOs get everyone off the tram at Central. But now instead of the driver changing ends and going back to Circular Quay, they continue on up Devonshire street and go out to Kingsford.

On the way back, instead of confusing potential passengers by running 'Not in Service' through Moore Park and Surry Hills, they just become an L2 and pickup if anyone is there.

Trams do terminate at Moore Park regularly - in the evening as trams are running out of service, they often show a destination of Moore Park, the last passenger top before the depot junction. presumably, the driver has to get out the cab and 'chase off' any remaining passengers. I can't see them providing a CSO at Moore Park every evening.
  route14 Chief Commissioner

It would be good if they provided some additional capacity along the shared section in both directions to give some additional average personal space during the pandamonium, with CSO reallocated to Moore Park if there is a build up of passengers refusing to alight.
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
The light rail would be most quiet now with all this virus stuff.
  Fred Scuttle Junior Train Controller

Location: Point Clare, NSW
The line to Kingsford has opened - quietly, and without any fanfare, thanks to COVID-19.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance declared the line open by video-link.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-03/sydney-light-rail-final-stage-opened-remotely-amid-coronavirus/12117148?WT.ac=localnews_sydney
  craigfitz1 Train Controller

Just a few days after the Govt announced increased services along both the south east routes, all trams today have been halted.

A fire alarm somewhere this morning (according to the transport info website) has meant that all trams have been cancelled since this morning.

Buses are now running instead.


So, a fire alarm going off this morning is enough to cancel trams for the whole day? Really? There has to be much more to it than this.
Not a good look at all. I walked past the Randwick terminus a few hours ago, and people were patiently waiting for a tram that will not be coming (and the electronic signs on the platform saying nothing...not even that there had been a service disruption). This is not how to do things.
  Matthew Chief Train Controller


So, a fire alarm going off this morning is enough to cancel trams for the whole day? Really? There has to be much more to it than this.
craigfitz1

I think a server plugged into the wrong circuit.

The fire alarm disconnects site power. This is pretty normal for some industrial settings now. Remove a source of fire. Leave only emergency lighting for evacuation. Kill everything else.

Only a key server that is supposed to be on battery and do an orderly shutdown is not. By omission or a simple labelling mistake, it's not on 'secure' power.
So a key server that controls the flow of traffic and messages to and from the trams just goes 'clunk'.

The alarm is cleared, power is restored, the server doesn't boot. System Error. Or the application doesn't start up 'database corrupt'. Call in the IT expert. They spend the next few hours trying to fix the system with little to no loss of data while managers are hanging around asking 'are you done yet' every 30 seconds.

The L2/L3 lines are run by computer. The control room uses a traffic control system that sends instructions in real-time to a screen next to the driver. It supervises everything - it tells the driver if they are ahead or behind the table. It controls the destination displays, it controls the points at the junctions. It does pretty well everything BUT actually drive the tram. It also sends out messages to the platform displays.

Everyone from the line controllers down to the drivers has been trained to use this system. Its use is probably written into their safety case filed with the regulator. Lose that system and no one knows what to do or how to instruct anyone what to do.

I would guess the limited service they ran was run with drivers who had been trained before the traffic control system had been commissioned and they now have an extra 'endorsement' to allow them to operate a 'degraded mode' service. They only had enough of them available to run L2 every 15 minutes.

L1 continued to run despite now using the same control room as those trams are not micromanaged by central control to the degree the new ones are. They probably still can talk on the radio and control the points from Pyrmont. So those drivers just continued to operate to their printed timetable cards like normal.

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