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 Sydney Metro North West opens for business
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 Return to top of page · Post #: 1 · Written at 3:29:56 PM on 26 May 2019.
Brad's avatar
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 Location: Greenwich, NSW
 Member since 15 November 2005
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 Postcount: 6348

Today saw the official opening of Sydney Metro North West, Sydney's newest rail line and a taste of things to come with rail travel across Sydney. For those who are unaware, the north western suburbs have been crying out for rail for many years and governments have pretty much ignored the pleas until now.

The first stage of a larger project, this line runs from Chatswood Station on the existing heavy rail network, out to Tallawong, just west of Rouse Hill. The trains are the first single-deck sets to run on the suburban rail network in more than 20 years and are completely automated - no driver and no guard on board. Whilst the line between Tallawong and Chatswood is now open, stage 2 of the project is now well under construction and will take these trains into the CBD and then out to Bankstown. At the same time, a separate project, Sydney Metro West, is almost shovel-ready and will most likely run between Martin Place in the CBD out to the Nancy Bird-Walton (Western Sydney) airport, which is also under construction.

I rode the new service today simply to get out of the house and do something different. Travel on the new line is free for today - a Sydney tradition going back a long time. I believe that as of tomorrow, Opal cards will be needed. The journey out to the North West this morning was fairly uneventful and everything went smoothly. As per the photos below, once the official first train service came in to Chatswood with the Premier, Minister for Transport and rail officials on board, the crowd was then slowly but surely ushered on to waiting services.

The trip back was delayed by a few teething problems, with Chatswood-bound trains overshooting the platform at Macquarie Park Station and needing to reverse to align themselves with the openings in the safety barriers. This is an issue that will no doubt get sorted in the coming days and I think it is reasonable to expect that on a project as complex as this that there will be bugs to iron out.

Whilst I waited at Rouse Hill for services to resume, I noticed that the wait had caused a temper to go into meltdown. One bloke passed me as I was eating lunch blurting expletive after expletive because he had to wait. When the kids are better behaved than the adults, something is wrong. My only criticism of the design of this line is that when a train stops working, there is nowhere to push it to the side so normal services can carry on. If a train dies and there isn't a driver immediately available to take control, the breakdown brings the line to a standstill. There is also nowhere to stand disabled trains at the Chatswood end of the line.

Photos:-

Sydney Metro North West


NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, and Minister for Transport, Andrew Constance, wave and wish us a good journey this morning.

Sydney Metro North West


The crowd at Chatswood, eager but well behaved.

Sydney Metro North West


A train arriving at Tallawong Station, just past Rouse Hill in Sydney's North West.

Sydney Metro North West


The near train is entering service with the far one about to head for the stabling yard.

Sydney Metro North West


The 'Sky Train' viaduct just heading towards Rouse Hill Station.

Sydney Metro North West


The viaduct provides shade - this is where I ate lunch.

Sydney Metro North West


The butt-end of Rouse Hill Station - featuring fire exits and the electricity substation. Yes, there are fire exits at the other end of the station in case it is the substation that catches fire!

Sydney Metro North West


The orderly queue at Rouse Hill Station. Each of the surface stations has colour-coded glass. Underground stations are not colour coded.

Sydney Metro North West


Up on the platform.

Sydney Metro North West


An outbound train arrives at Rouse Hill.

Sydney Metro North West


Followed by the inbound train which I board. In the background is Australia's only curved cable-stayed bridge.

Sydney Metro North West


A view of the saloon. It is possible to walk from one end of the train to the other - when it is not crowded, of course.

Sydney Metro North West


When arriving at Chatswood, you need to shift to the existing heavy rail system to continue into town and beyond. This double-deck A-Set is and will continue to be the mainstay of 'the system' for years to come.

Sydney Metro North West


A view of the upper and lower decks of an A-Set, also known as a Waratah Train.


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A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 2 · Written at 7:43:31 PM on 26 May 2019.
STC830's Gravatar
 Location: NSW
 Member since 10 June 2010
 Member #: 681
 Postcount: 941

Thanks for that introduction Brad.
It is good to see serious serious action in extending and upgrading the suburban rail network in Sydney.

Where will the extension from Chatswood into the CBD cross the harbour? Would it need a new tunnel if the heavy trains need to use the harbour bridge? Or can the metro trains share the track with the heavies?

It looks by the look of the overhead powerlines that the voltage has not been increased from the old 1500V or whatever it is. It looks like the opportunity has not been taken use high voltage like the Brisbane metropolitan electric trains


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 3 · Written at 7:58:48 PM on 26 May 2019.
GTC's avatar
 GTC
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 28 January 2011
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 Postcount: 6010

I don't like those tram type seats. Acceleration and braking pushes you into the passenger beside you.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 4 · Written at 9:13:09 PM on 26 May 2019.
Robbbert's avatar
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 18 September 2015
 Member #: 1801
 Postcount: 1379

I'll have to try out the new trains maybe next week. Thanks for the photos.

You've managed something few people do: see politicians in real life.

The new line stops just 2 km short of the Richmond line. You'd think the extra thought process would have been in place to join them.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 5 · Written at 11:05:57 AM on 27 May 2019.
Brad's avatar
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I have to say that I have a soft spot for the double deckers. Not just because the seats face the correct way (in most of them) but because they are an Australian invention and they can hold a very large number of people at critical times - even though the general principle is, the more a train holds, the more time it takes to load and unload them.

The metro line doesn't really strike me as being modelled on others - the distances between stations is longer compared to London or New York but I think that is a good thing. Repetitive starting and stopping is probably better suited to trams than trains and on a line this long it'd get quite annoying. The seats in the new trains are not only oriented side-on but they are very narrow. So either French people are on average smaller than us or the interior designer didn't have his pencil sharp.

Even though the Tallawong end of the line terminates in a stabling yard and maintenance facility, there is space to continue the line when the cost can be justified. Schofields Station on the Richmond line isn't too far up the road.


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A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 6 · Written at 3:35:30 PM on 27 May 2019.
Brad's avatar
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 Location: Greenwich, NSW
 Member since 15 November 2005
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If you can put up with kids flapping their jaws for about 40 minutes, here's a 'drivers' view of the whole line.

Chatswood to Tallawong


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A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 7 · Written at 3:39:01 PM on 27 May 2019.
STC830's Gravatar
 Location: NSW
 Member since 10 June 2010
 Member #: 681
 Postcount: 941

My favourite electric carriages were the old long single deck 2 + 2 seat row carriages that ran on the express runs on the Illawarra, Newcastle and Lithgow lines. This is because they had a lobby at each end with internal doors between lobby and cabin. This made them quieter for the passengers than the double deckers. However I guess as traffic increased they had to go and be replaced with double deckers with 2 + 3 seats and no internal doors. The latest double deckers are much quieter than the originals.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 8 · Written at 6:05:49 PM on 27 May 2019.
Brad's avatar
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They were the U-Sets, also known as U boats. In winter they had oil filled cans under the seats to heat the cars. I only rode these on the Blue Mountains Line so I am not sure if this heating was supplied on the other lines.

These were gradually replaced by the V-Sets, which in turn will be replaced in the next few years with trains that have everything from WiFi, to power points for laptops and even drink/snack machines.


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A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 9 · Written at 6:24:39 PM on 27 May 2019.
Brad's avatar
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 Location: Greenwich, NSW
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Where will the extension from Chatswood into the CBD cross the harbour? Would it need a new tunnel if the heavy trains need to use the harbour bridge? Or can the metro trains share the track with the heavies?

My apologies. I didn't see the question. They are boring the tunnels right now but aren't quite under the harbour as yet. From Chatswood, there is Crows Nest, Victoria Cross, Barangaroo, Martin Place (two extra platforms will be here for Sydney Metro West I think), then Pitt Street, Central, Waterloo and then the new line will join the existing stations on the Bankstown Line.

I think the metro trains still use 1500VDC to move and the same rail gauge but metro will be kept separate from heavy rail so as to stop delays on one system affecting the other. Double deck trains can't fit in the smaller tunnels of the metro lines being built without major modifications either so that sorts that out. This can be seen in the linked video above. Once the train leaves Epping (formerly used for heavy rail) the new section of tunnel is not the same diameter and the noise inside the trains increases slightly in the smaller tunnels too.


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A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 10 · Written at 7:20:55 PM on 27 May 2019.
STC830's Gravatar
 Location: NSW
 Member since 10 June 2010
 Member #: 681
 Postcount: 941

"I think the metro trains still use 1500VDC"

Since the metro will eventually loop around through the CBD and out to Bankstown with no heavy rail passenger trains, I wonder why they haven't chosen to go for 25,000 AC like Queensland since the high current DC infrastructure would no longer be needed. On the NSW country lines at least, rectifier buildings are seen regularly to provide the 1500DC, and are fed by high voltage AC transmission lines that run beside the railway.

If and when other lines were converted to metro, they could perhaps go to high voltage AC as well.

Must be a reason, maybe commonality across the system. If I was a railway worker in the metro tunnels, I'd probably rather have 1500 volts overhead than 25,000 volts.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 11 · Written at 7:33:13 PM on 27 May 2019.
GTC's avatar
 GTC
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 28 January 2011
 Member #: 823
 Postcount: 6010

IMO, the most comfortable seats are (were?) those on the old Goninan Inter-urban trains which run (ran?) express from Central to Newcastle. I don't use trains these days so they may have been taken out of service by now.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 12 · Written at 7:20:45 AM on 28 May 2019.
STC830's Gravatar
 Location: NSW
 Member since 10 June 2010
 Member #: 681
 Postcount: 941

Just watched the video in post 6. See what you mean Brad about the "snugness" of the tunnel at Epping.

Also interesting to see that there is a narrow platform the full length of the tunnels on the right hand side. Would certainly facilitate evacuation if necessary. Could be a long walk though.

Bit of chatter about an ideal politicians train - no drivers to strike and no timetable to meet. Perhaps Gladys (the Premier) was nearby. But well done Gladys, a proper build has been done.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 13 · Written at 12:16:19 PM on 28 May 2019.
Keith Walters's avatar
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 16 January 2008
 Member #: 219
 Postcount: 55

"Even though the Tallawong end of the line terminates in a stabling yard and maintenance facility, there is space to continue the line when the cost can be justified. Schofields Station on the Richmond line isn't too far up the road."
I just don't understand why that wasn't part of the original plan in the first place, even if it was just a "Sprint" line like the one from Lidcombe to Olympic Park. When the project started most of the intervening area was just cow paddocks and bush, now it's all packed out with houses.
Edit to add:
I've spent a most frustrating amount of time online, trying to find out exactly when the first Metro trains leave Tallawong Road station in the morning and when they stop running at night.
Not only can't I find that anywhere, but I can't even find any place where I can ask that question!


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 14 · Written at 2:01:11 PM on 28 May 2019.
Brad's avatar
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 Location: Greenwich, NSW
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GTC - I think you mean the V-Sets. They were made by Commonwealth Engineering but the seats are comfy and these trains are still in service for the time being. They were the first trains with air conditioning and the motors on the bogies had big balls - for getting into the Blue Mountains at a fair rate of speed. The orange and olive colour scheme for the interiors was replaced with a plum colour a few years ago when these trains went through a midlife refit.

They must have been made well because they are still as solid as they were more than 40 years ago when they came off the production line. The shorter H-Sets run on the South Line now but the longer V-Sets still run to Newcastle and Lithgow. When the new intercity trains are all on the rails they will service all three lines, the V-Sets will retire and the H-Sets will be relegated to suburban duties, most likely replacing some of the R-Sets, which were made by Goninan (now UGL).


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A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 15 · Written at 1:00:25 PM on 30 May 2019.
NewVista's avatar
 Location: MilwWI, US
 Member since 10 May 2013
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 Postcount: 745

Melbourne trams could/should also be converted to driverless/automated.


 
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