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Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

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Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby Tim Williams » Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:56 pm

I visited Sydney, a couple of weekends ago with my wife and as we were staying at the Rocks, we decided to catch the train from the airport directly to Circular Quay (no changing of trains) and then a short walk to the hotel. Whilst I do appreciate that the service continues through to Macarthur (as a normal Sydney suburban train), standard double decker train is quite unsuitable as an airport train - there is (as you all would know) a relatively small are next to the doors, which can be accessed without steps and once those areas gain a few people with luggage (and there are no luggage racks) then those areas become totally congested. So, to get a couple of seats, I walked upstairs with a suitcase and a cabin bag (my wife had just a cabin bag). But there is nowhere to put the luggage upstairs (or downstairs for that matter) other than on the seats or block the gangway - totally unsatisfactory!!

On the Friday evening I decided to catch a train at Circular Quay to travel to Wynyard at about 5.30pm, for two reasons - firstly to see how these double decker trains cope with rush hour traffic ( particularly loadings and unloadings) and to do some bus photography in the dark at Wynyard. Well I wonderfully picked the same Friday as the day a roof hatch on a train was noticed as unlatched at Town Hall in the morning and delays and congestion from that were still evident and 5.30pm at Circular Quay, which looked like Hong Kong Central, but unlike Hong Kong the loadings and unloadings on the standard Sydney trains are painfully slow.

There are several things that puzzle me about the Sydney rail system:-
1. Yes, double deckers are very suitable for outer suburban runs with long journey times, where there is a real need for the majority of passengers to be seated. Same comment applies to buses!
2. Why can't the lines be separated into long-outer services (with DD's as above) and with shorter distance (inner) services served by metro Hong Kong/Singapore style multi-door trains.
3. I thought that a real effort had been made in Sydney to operationally separate lines - so that a problem, such as the roof hatch issue on one train does not affect all other trains/lines and why would a morning problem result in evening peak delays?

And just to round off my unhappy weekend on Sydney trains, on the Sunday there was the usual line maintenance work, which meant that the line from the city to the airport was unavailable and so passengers were directed by notices and some rail staff to travel to Wolli Creek, then change trains and catch a to city via airport service - the only problem with this was that the train change at Wolli Creek apparently involves negotiating tall staircases up and down and people of all ages going to the airport with obviously have varying amounts of luggage. This then was not thought through well by Sydney trains, as traveling from the city to Turrella and changing trains to travel to the airport involves simply a cross (island) platform transfer. Fortunately a number of more enlightened rail staff were directing airport passengers this way.

I will be most interested in your comments Tonyp!!!
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby Fleet Lists » Tue Sep 17, 2019 4:17 pm

Undoubtedly TonyP has expressed such opinions in just about every train thread in Sydney, to the point that many Sydney contributors are sick of reading them. Particularly his opinion of double decker trains. Best of luck.
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby Tim Williams » Tue Sep 17, 2019 4:39 pm

I meant to post this in NSW - my apologies!

What is the method of moving this????
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby Fleet Lists » Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:33 pm

It has been moved
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby moa999 » Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:50 pm

Simply put - history and $s. And a general view that transfers are unpalatable.
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby tonyp » Tue Sep 17, 2019 7:09 pm

Welcome via the Brisbane and Adelaide threads Tim! Nice to have an independent observer come to the same conclusions as me. Not only that, but living proof that travelers do actually use airport trains to get directly from the airport to hotels along the western spine of the City Circle and wouldn't want to be dumped with their luggage at Central as some have suggested!

As Fleet Lists says, this subject has been done to death on the Sydney forum. Yes, double deckers are unsuitable as airport trains, but it's down to poor planning in the past. They were too ambitious building a line to serve the dual purpose of a long distance commuter express to Campbelltown (a job for double deckers) and a metro-type service to serve an airport (a job for single deckers). Doesn't work.

In hindsight it would have been better to divert the Eastern Suburbs/Illawarra line onto the Airport line at Redfern (freeing up some main tracks for Campbelltown trains), then rejoining the Illawarra line at Wolli Creek. Having thus fully separated the ESR/Illawarra line they could then re-equip it with faster single deck trains that are more appropriate for the distance travelled. (A conversion to metro would be even better but that could only go as far as Hurstville, as south of that the single pair of tracks is shared with double deck interurbans and freights.)

At least I guess having an airport line of any sort is better than having no airport line at all. So what about having double deck buses to Adelaide airport then? How do you get the suitcases upstairs? ;)
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby neilrex » Tue Sep 17, 2019 7:45 pm

" Why can't the lines be separated into long-outer services (with DD's as above) and with shorter distance (inner) services served by metro Hong Kong/Singapore style multi-door trains."

Well you could, if you were starting from scratch.

Consider the comparison to other large cities.

Sydney's CBD is very compact, by world standards. The existing CBD system gives passengers on the t1 west and north shore a choice of three stops which puts almost everywhere in the CBD within walking distance directly to and from the suburban services. for the eastern suburbs/Illawarra line, same. for the lines utilising the city circle, choice of six stops. This is enormously convenient and time saving for most CBD commuters, compared to catching some kind of metro to the central station and then changing. that would waste heaps of time for many commuters. and you would always have the annoying risk of missing the second train.
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby tonyp » Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:53 pm

I don't think Tim was suggesting that any train terminate at Central. As it turns out, both the metro and suburban systems are feeding through the CBD via multiple stations, so that convenience factor will remain. The issue of separating the suburban lines is an historical burden and will take a very long time to resolve.
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby Fleet Lists » Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:04 pm

Keep in mind that when the system was designed there was no such thing as long distance suburban trains as we know them now, to such places as Penrith and Campbelltown. These were later additions and no thought would have been given then to duplicating the inner part of the system to cater for long distance trains. In that respect Sydney is not the only place which has that problem.
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby Linto63 » Wed Sep 18, 2019 7:36 am

Tim Williams wrote:Why can't the lines be separated into long-outer services (with DD's as above) and with shorter distance (inner) services served by metro Hong Kong/Singapore style multi-door trains.
Unlike Brisbane and Perth, where lines were / are being built specifically to serve the airports, the Sydney Airport Link was also built for other purposes as well; namely to serve Green Square and Mascot, but more importantly removing East Hills line trains from the Redfern - Tempe corridor. While a dedicated airport service with single deck stock could operate to and from Turrella or Kingsgrove, it would take up paths on the already congested City Circle.
Tim Williams wrote:I thought that a real effort had been made in Sydney to operationally separate lines - so that a problem, such as the roof hatch issue on one train does not affect all other trains/lines and why would a morning problem result in evening peak delays?
It has happened further out, but the cork in the bottle is a finite number of tracks through the cbd, so total segregation is not possible. A train going pop on the City Circle will affect multiple lines. A morning problem can still be having knock-on effects for the rest of the day with crews and stock ending up out of position.
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby tonyp » Wed Sep 18, 2019 8:03 am

The Perth line, like the Sydney line, has other purposes serving industrial and residential areas and is a segment of a possible future circle line, but as they have single deck stock, the usability issue raised by Tim doesn't exist. Mind you I have memories of arriving at Heathrow from Australia in the 1980s with the usual large suitcases (without wheels in those days) and boarding a Tube train to get into the city - in morning peak (QF flights arrived at dawn) with the train subsequently filling like a sardine can. It was quite a job extracting our little caravan from the mob when we arrived at our station!
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby Aurora » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:16 pm

I’ve always been a big fan of the idea of running single deckers as a shuttle Ashfield - City Circle - Revesby via Airport all stations with the rest done by DDs but for some reason people seem to think SD and DDs are incompatible on the same system, which is nonsense as we have done it in the past.

Note this idea is around 10 years old and not really compatible with the way the timetable is currently set up.
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby tonyp » Wed Sep 18, 2019 2:26 pm

Aurora wrote:I’ve always been a big fan of the idea of running single deckers as a shuttle Ashfield - City Circle - Revesby via Airport all stations with the rest done by DDs but for some reason people seem to think SD and DDs are incompatible on the same system, which is nonsense as we have done it in the past.

Note this idea is around 10 years old and not really compatible with the way the timetable is currently set up.

It didn't work well in the past because then the double deckers performed better than the single deckers. Now it's the opposite with modern single deckers, so you need to find a separated line that you can operate exclusively with single deckers and the only line with a chance of that is ESR/Illawarra.
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby Fleet Lists » Wed Sep 18, 2019 2:33 pm

So that the longer distance Cronulla people can suffer this inconvenience. No thanks.
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby tonyp » Wed Sep 18, 2019 3:07 pm

Fleet Lists wrote:So that the longer distance Cronulla people can suffer this inconvenience. No thanks.

But Central to Cronulla is only the same distance as Tallawong to Chatswood (36 km, 11 stops, 35 mins) but takes 11 minutes longer on a trip with the same number of stops (35 km, 11 stops, 46 mins, per example from the timetable), that's the whole point! It's journey time that's the critical issue, not distance. For 46 mins maybe you'd want a double decker but for 35 mins would you? Anyway, that's an academic example. No guarantee that a single decker on the existing Illawarra line would achieve the performance of the specially built, different-technology NE line, it might be just a bit better and perhaps no point to such a conversion without my previous (now hypothetical) suggestion of deviating the ESR/Illawarra to incorporate the Airport line, which is the original issue being discussed. You've probably had enough of seeing academic arguments for now!
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby Fleet Lists » Wed Sep 18, 2019 3:46 pm

This shows what you can prove with statistics. More relevant would be Martin Place to Cronulla.
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby tonyp » Thu Sep 19, 2019 6:54 am

Fleet Lists wrote:This shows what you can prove with statistics. More relevant would be Martin Place to Cronulla.

Add 4 mins onto both the above times (39 vs 50 mins). It depends what your personal threshold is at which you'd cease to tolerate a single decker and prefer a double decker, where the importance of getting a seat outweighs the isssue of the journey time. This obviously varies enormously between individuals, considering that somebody at the outer end of a line always get a seat on the inward journey and may not initially, but eventually gets a seat on the outward journey. You do have a greater chance of getting a seat on a double decker, but casual observations on the NW and in Perth indicate that many people simply do not care about this issue, probably because of the above reasons - journey time is quicker and a seat is eventually available anyway sooner or later.
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby Tim Williams » Thu Sep 19, 2019 3:39 pm

Thanks for the responses and no!Tonyp, Adelaide does not have to worry about luggage going upstairs on the Airport Express Bustech CDI with average load factors that were quoted as 4 per journey, a couple of years ago. I think that DD would be better utilised if it were based at Aldgate or Mount Barker!!!!

My criticisms of Sydney Rail are a little unfair in some ways as it is an old system that has grown and attempted best cater for a mixed demand of inner and outer suburban patronage. It would be so much easier to start with a "clean sheet of paper" and plan and implement a system which best handles the needs of today and what is expected for the future - Singapore and Hong Kong are best examples that I know of. I am sure there are many others.

One of the innovations of both places are station platform doors, which remain closed, until a train has stopped at the station and doors of the trains and on the platform line up and open and close (obviously!) at the same. This is naturally a great safety feature, but also keeps tunnel heat out of the stations.

I don't this could be done in London as some of the Tube stations have insufficient platform depth - may be the same for some stations in Sydney and all trains would have to have exactly the same door positioning!

As I am sure most would know that London has two sizes of Underground tunnels and trains - the larger sub-surface ones, such as the District and Metropolitan (which are basically the size as normal UK trains) and smaller deep tunnel trains which operate in tunnels of 3.4mtr diameter - The Piccadilly and Bakerloo are examples these. Now the point of mentioning this is that I have read that these smaller trains cannot be air-conditioned due to lack of space to fit the equipment and note that the temperature in the tunnels and thus the trains, with their lack of air-con, can well exceed 40c in the summer and the non air-conditioned stations can be similarly very hot.

I understand that Sydney Rail is an all air-conditioned fleet now = not everything is a negative!!!
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby Linto63 » Thu Sep 19, 2019 4:08 pm

Tim Williams wrote:One of the innovations of both places are station platform doors, which remain closed, until a train has stopped at the station and doors of the trains and on the platform line up and open and close (obviously!) at the same. This is naturally a great safety feature, but also keeps tunnel heat out of the stations. I don't this could be done in London as some of the Tube stations have insufficient platform depth - may be the same for some stations in Sydney and all trains would have to have exactly the same door positioning!
Also requires platforms to be straight, hence why only the 1990s built section of the Jubilee line has them, with the stations on the older section north of Charing Cross are not so fitted.
Tim Williams wrote:I understand that Sydney Rail is an all air-conditioned fleet now = not everything is a negative!!!
One of the down sides of air-conditioned trains at underground stations is that they expel hot air which compounds the heat problem.
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby tonyp » Thu Sep 19, 2019 4:44 pm

Pity you didn't ride the metro Tim. It has platform doors. In fact the new underground station platforms are completely enclosed and you're not even exposed to the atmosphere of the tunnels. Platform doors will also be fitted to the curved platforms of the Bankstown line metro conversion. I'm sure they'd be able to fit platform gates to the suburban stations if they have kept consistent door spacings on the various train models over the years, but the main problem is the lack of level access. Also I'm sure the newer double deck models have flip-up seats in the end saloons to enable wheelchairs, prams and luggage to be accommodated.
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby Tim Williams » Thu Sep 19, 2019 4:50 pm

Interesting point regarding straight platforms and hence planning for that from start would be essential. Some of those London platforms are both very curved and are narrow. There is a very attractive, but highly curved station on the New York Subway called City Hall, it is not used, but is preserved - it has wonderful architecture.

I must say that I have wondered about the heat in the Singapore tunnels - maybe there are fans and ventilation shafts, but as in London, it is not desirable have all that pushed through to the stations with that "piston in a cylinder" effect in the small tubes.

Not such a problem in Sydney with relatively small tunnel sections, large profile tunnels with large clearances, particularly on the top for the wiring and pantogaphs.
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby Tim Williams » Thu Sep 19, 2019 4:54 pm

tonyp wrote:Pity you didn't ride the metro Tim. It has platform doors. In fact the new underground station platforms are completely enclosed and you're not even exposed to the atmosphere of the tunnels. Platform doors will also be fitted to the curved platforms of the Bankstown line metro conversion. I'm sure they'd be able to fit platform gates to the suburban stations if they have kept consistent door spacings on the various train models over the years, but the main problem is the lack of level access. Also I'm sure the newer double deck models have flip-up seats in the end saloons to enable wheelchairs, prams and luggage to be accommodated.


I agree Tonyp, shame I did not ride the metro, I do love the platform doors - what a marvelous safety feature it is!
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby moa999 » Thu Sep 19, 2019 5:12 pm

Tim Williams wrote:I don't this could be done in London as some of the Tube stations have insufficient platform depth - may be the same for some stations in Sydney and all trains would have to have exactly the same door positioning!


Those narrow platforms is where you need doors most, as they increase the safely usable amount of the platform.

There has been some forward planning in Sydney with all sets since the 2000s (M, H, A, B) having common door position.

As others have posted PSDs are possible on curved platforms but are more difficult, and we will have this on the T3 Metro conversion.

T1 line is currently 80-90% common door with just a few Tangaras running.

Equally T4 is mostly Tangaras, but the South Coast trains will be a problem, unless they go back to being Central terminators when they reinstate the Central platforms.

The new Intercity Fleet will cascade more Oscars to the Sydney trains fleet, so probably only a few years away from being able to install PSDs at select stations on some lines.
Last edited by moa999 on Thu Sep 19, 2019 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby Fleet Lists » Thu Sep 19, 2019 5:21 pm

moa999 wrote:
There has been some forward planning in Sydney with all sets since the 2000s (M, H, A, B) having common door position.


But this in itself can be a long term problem in that newer type single deckers are likely to have more doors.
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Re: Airport Link (Sydney's Airport Train)

Postby boronia » Thu Sep 19, 2019 6:09 pm

Probably only need 3, with one in the centre of the existing envelope?
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