Metro fast-rail fail: Illawarra line may have slower journey

Kogarah commuters could have even slower services in the future. Picture: Jane Dyson
Kogarah commuters could have even slower services in the future. Picture: Jane Dyson

KOGARAH and Rockdale rail commuters, who are still seething over the loss of peak-period express services, may be in for even slower journeys in the future.

St Peters and Erskineville railway stations could become new stops on the Illawarra Line when the new Sydney Metro fast-rail system starts operating.

Fully automated, driverless trains on the Metro system will run every few minutes in peak periods from Rouse Hill in the north-west, under Sydney Harbour, through new city stations and on to Bankstown.

St Peters and Erskineville stations, which are serviced by Bankstown trains at present, will be bypassed.

An overview released by Transport for NSW this month said: "St Peters and Erskineville stations will remain open and serviced by Sydney Trains".

Illawarra Line trains once stopped at St Peters and Erskineville stations before linking with the Eastern Suburbs Line and sometimes still do so during track work and emergencies.

The North West Rail Link would run every four minutes during peak times, Premier Mike Baird and Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian announced on September 16, 2014.

The North West Rail Link would run every four minutes during peak times, Premier Mike Baird and Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian announced on September 16, 2014.

If required to stop there again, it would appear the all-stations services to and from Hurstville would be best suited to the task.

This would continue to free up adjoining tracks for faster trains servicing outer areas.

At present, the only other trains that pass through St Peters and Erskineville stations without stopping are peak-period express services for Campbelltown and Liverpool commuters.

Transport for NSW left open the possibility of extra stops being added to Illawarra Line trains when responding to questions from the Leader.

"The government has started community consultation on the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project and will be listening to the feedback we get from customers," a spokeswoman said.

"Sydney Metro City & Southwest is expected to open to customers in 2024."

Sydney Metro will be a privately-operated, stand-alone system with fully automated, driverless trains running every few minutes in peak periods.

Frequent flyers: Metro trains will run every few minutes through the city to Bankstown.

Frequent flyers: Metro trains will run every few minutes through the city to Bankstown.

The single-deck trains, which will have at least three doors in every carriage, will carry more passengers than those operated by Sydney Trains. It is claimed they will be quicker with less dwell time at stations.

At least five new Metro stations are proposed; at Central, Pitt Street, Martin Place, Victoria Cross (North Sydney) and the St Leonards/Crows Nest. 

More stations may be built at Barangaroo, the Artarmon industrial area and either the University of Sydney or Waterloo.

Stations along the existing Bankstown line will need to be upgraded, which will mean the suspension of existing train services for extensive periods.

Planners say the Bankstown Line effectively slows down the Sydney network because of the way it merges with other lines, including the East Hills and Inner West lines, close to the city.

The Metro network will be fully segregated from the existing Sydney Trains railway tracks at both Sydenham and Bankstown.

Beyond Bankstown, the existing line will continue to be operated by Sydney Trains.

LINK A LONG WAY OFF

A Sydney Metro link to Hurstville remains a possibility but would appear to be a long way down the track.

An extension of the system from Sydenham to Hurstville was included when plans for the new system were unveiled in the 2012 strategy Sydney’s Rail Future.

However, there has been no further mention of it in government documents.

Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance revived the possibility when he told hundreds of industry executives this month the system could be extended in the future.

‘‘This massive city-shaping project will be the new spine of our city’s public transport system and will serve us for generations to come, with room to grow,’’ he said.

Asked whether the Hurstville extension was still planned, and if so, when that might occur, a Transport for NSW spokeswoman said it was ‘‘the fifth stage of Sydney’s Rail Future [as was the Bankstown link]’’.

Premier Mike Baird said funding for the extension from Chatswood to the city and Bankstown was secured by the passage of the power privatisation legislation, which would provide $20 billion for new infrastructure.

Mr Baird said construction of a new Sydney Harbour rail crossing should start in 2017. 

The line to Bankstown would be finished in 2024.

 What do you think of the Sydney Metro plans? 

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