Inner West Light Rail observations

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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by Swift »

matthewg wrote:
Swift wrote:Were the Vario trams incompatible with the newer rolling stock or were they just keen to parade these flash new trams and underestimated demand (as usual)?
The only thing wrong with the Variotrams was they needed a 'mid-life' overhaul. (Basically, a deep clean, repaint, replace any parts that are giving trouble). The government decided to replace instead of an overhaul then got bloody-minded about bringing them back to satisfy the increase in demand. They were virtually scrapped in secret. (I was there the day the scrapping started, ripping parts off the doomed cars as spares for 2107, and it was made clear I was not to publish the photos I took of the process.)
Given the bloody-minded secrecy, I have a personal suspicion that contract with CAF for the 6 extra cars contained a 'no return of the Bombardier cars' clause.

The tech staff at Pyrmont actually started on the overhauls before the program was killed by management. The cars were then 'run into the ground' with only the bare minimum of maintenance performed while waiting for the new Urbos to arrive.

The relationship between CAF (doing the maintenance) and Bombardier (who had the proprietary parts) was a little strained which didn't help. Pyrmont was always short on certain spare parts for Varios in the CAF era. SImilar tension now exists between Alstom and CAF.
Yet another example of NSW being a stifling back water. Many one eyed people here won't hear of anything but this being a world leader state despite the constant examples to the contrary.
Mike Baird, Neville Wran and even Robert Askin offered some solace, but despite Gladys sterling efforts, we are back chucking a normal. Dominic Perrotet it's another beacon among the darkness that is this state.
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by tonyp »

moa999 wrote:Maybe you should ride the IWLR tonyp.

They definitely fill up to crush capacity.
Maybe a little slowly versus one with more doors.
But it's really only two busy stations, one being the Central terminus where time doesn't matter so much, and star city.

And the spec was repeated for Newcastle, and Canberra did the same. There is ultimately a trade-off between doors (particularly when on both sides) and seats/disabled spaces.
It's not just a meter of two stops. Somebody I know got carried past their Darling Harbour stop because they couldn't get through the crowd to the door before it closed and it wasn't a matter of working your way towards the door in advance, but not being able to penetrate the crowd to do even that. When a public transport service gets to that level of crowding it's a matter of never mind seats, doors are far more important. Wheelchair parking isn't an issue.

It's too late and too difficult to modify the platforms to hold 45 or 60 metre trams. They need to duplicate the Dulwich Hill terminus and buy more trams to enable more services (given that it's also too late/too difficult to insert efficient turnbacks along the line).

More doors would also mean less time at stops, thus quicker turnaround thus more services.
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STMPainter2018
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by STMPainter2018 »

A follow up article has been made by the same woman. Good for her; don't complain if you don't have a solution I say. https://10daily.com.au/lifestyle/life/a ... TGSqOpnymc
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by Linto63 »

matthewg wrote:The only thing wrong with the Variotrams was they needed a 'mid-life' overhaul.
While the cost of a new tram was probably much higher than a mid-life overhaul, there are other factors that need to be taken into account. Even if all the moving parts were replaced it was still going to be a 20 year old tram. Yes the Variotrams could have been overhauled for another 10-20 years of service, but sometimes when the pros and cons of refurbishment vs new build are weighed up, sending them to an early grave is the conclusion, in the same way that many State Transit Mercedes O405NHs were withdrawn after only 16 years when their gas tanks needed replacing.

Having one standard fleet is more economical from a parts and engineering staff point of view, particularly with a bespoke fleet. New trams would be more efficient and have superior crashworthiness. The order at a time when the Australian dollar was fairly strong.
matthewg wrote:The government decided to replace instead of an overhaul then got bloody-minded about bringing them back to satisfy the increase in demand.
The second order of 6 was only made so that the Variotrams could be scrapped. Had this not happened, the fleet would still only have been the size that it is now.
matthewg wrote:Given the bloody-minded secrecy, I have a personal suspicion that contract with CAF for the 6 extra cars contained a 'no return of the Bombardier cars' clause.
Doubt it, had that been the case CAF would have taken the Variotrams as a trade in.
tonyp wrote:They need to boot the CAFs off the IWLR and run the Citadis on it.
Except they are probably on a long term lease. An X05 stopboard has been erected 30 or so metres to the west of the Paddy's Market stop, so maybe CBD&SELR stock will operate on the IWLR in selected door mode.
tonyp wrote:TfNSW is making the same design mistake with the trams for Parramatta and Newcastle (and Transport Canberra has made the same mistake there).
Multiple transport agencies making the same mistake, or just something that you don't agree with?
tonyp wrote:They need to duplicate the Dulwich Hill terminus and buy more trams to enable more services (given that it's also too late/too difficult to insert efficient turnbacks along the line).
A turnback could be accommodated to the north of Lewisham West, where there is still a siding in situ from the heavy rail days that served the flour mill.
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by tonyp »

That's a more constructive piece. I must say I've never queued for a tram anywhere in the world in my life. The whole notion is as ridiculous as queuing to board a train. In this case it's because stupid TfNSW ordered them with only two main doors with two small auxiliary doors at the ends. This is a classic example of the lost art of mass transit which the largest Australian cities were very good at in the period 1900 to 1950s. After that, patronage went flat in all cities, the transport administrators with old skills retired and the task became a lazy cruise where the rule of thumb was plenty of seats, don't worry about doors and standee space.

They've all been caught out by the population/demand explosion from the 1990s. Perth was probably best prepared - right from the 90s. Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane went into panic (or denial) when the tidal wave appeared after 2000. Adelaide and Hobart have remained static in patronage and don't face the challenge yet. In Sydney they've had to face the mass transit challenge in a steep learning curve over the last decade ( not dissimilar to what happened between 1900 and 1920 when patronage rose by about 320 million, mainly on trams).

NSW is finally rising to the challenge with projects like the metro, but nowhere is the change more obvious than in the trams - from the under planned, under specified IWLR to CSELR with all the right equipment. In bus equivalence, the CAFs are like the inadequate 12 metre two door standard bus that was "OK" through the dog days period of the 70s and 80s; the Alstoms are the equivalent of those European four or five door artics, real muscle for mass transit. Really they need to get some of the Citadis across to IWLR and sell off the CAFs as a mistake. There should be some takers somewhere in the world.

Edit: re the Variotrams, they were 15 years through a 30 year lifecycle and there was nothing wrong with them. There was absolutely no justification to get rid of them. What happened was complex and I won't go into it. Of course they were only three door trams too, but with a bigger fleet it might have reduced the pressure of number of passengers per tram.
Last edited by tonyp on Thu Nov 28, 2019 8:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by moa999 »

As stated previously, the crossover before Wentworth Park or the siding at Lilyfield would make more sense.
There is no point running additional frequencies on sections that don't need it.

Plus any 2nd platform at Dulwich Hill would be pretty compromised unless you want to move a substation, and a loop would mean a long transfer.

At a guess the X05 stop at Paddy's is probably more for emergencies if you need to clear the line and Central is blocked.
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by Campbelltown busboy »

tonyp wrote:the Alstoms are the equivalent of those European four or five door artics, real muscle for mass transit. Really they need to get some of the Citadis across to IWLR and sell off the CAFs as a mistake. There should be some takers somewhere in the world.
Can the Citadis be run as a single set vehicle if they can then they are good for use on the Inner West Light Rail if they can't then Transport For NSW would have to major platform extension works to every stop on the line excluding Central Grand Concourse witch can fit 2 Urbos3s alongside the platform at one time
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by tonyp »

I think by the time the metro starts they'll be wanting a full service through to Dulwich Hill for the additional development and traffic that will emerge. I'm certainly not against short services but wherever is chosen for them needs space for the turnback between the tracks (like Moore Park), not outside the running lines requiring a crossover/facing movement. Where might that be possible? Not likely Lilyfield.
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by tonyp »

Campbelltown busboy wrote:Can the Citadis be run as a single set vehicle if they can then they are good for use on the Inner West Light Rail if they can't then Transport For NSW would have to major platform extension works to every stop on the line excluding Central Grand Concourse witch can fit 2 Urbos3s alongside the platform at one time
Citadis can be used as a single 30 metre tram.
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by boronia »

tonyp wrote:
Campbelltown busboy wrote:Can the Citadis be run as a single set vehicle if they can then they are good for use on the Inner West Light Rail if they can't then Transport For NSW would have to major platform extension works to every stop on the line excluding Central Grand Concourse witch can fit 2 Urbos3s alongside the platform at one time
Citadis can be used as a single 30 metre tram.
It is not just the length, there are other compatibility problems between the two systems. These have been explained before.
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by Linto63 »

tonyp wrote:Where might that be possible? Not likely Lilyfield.
Lilyfield is out as while it could be reconfigured in its current form, the current caged siding will become the headshunt for the new depot. While a centre reversing siding may be preferable, even if peak frequencies were doubled to every 4 minutes, a siding on one side wouldn't cause much if any delay.
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by Geo101 »

moa999 wrote:As stated previously, the crossover before Wentworth Park or the siding at Lilyfield would make more sense.
There is no point running additional frequencies on sections that don't need it.

Plus any 2nd platform at Dulwich Hill would be pretty compromised unless you want to move a substation, and a loop would mean a long transfer.

At a guess the X05 stop at Paddy's is probably more for emergencies if you need to clear the line and Central is blocked.
I've often wondered if realigning the IWLR tracks between Wentworth Park and Paddy's Market (via Wattle and Mackarthur Streets) would help in any way. It seems that journey between those two stops is an incredible waste of time, ~ 12 minutes)

A terminal/interchange for the Star Casino route would be easy enough to build (money aside) in Wentworth Park, and the trams would be able to run the route end-to-end perhaps 8 or 9 minutes quicker? Aside from the Wattle and Harris street crossings, it would be a clear run?
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by Geo101 »

moa999 wrote:As stated previously, the crossover before Wentworth Park or the siding at Lilyfield would make more sense.
There is no point running additional frequencies on sections that don't need it.

Plus any 2nd platform at Dulwich Hill would be pretty compromised unless you want to move a substation, and a loop would mean a long transfer.

At a guess the X05 stop at Paddy's is probably more for emergencies if you need to clear the line and Central is blocked.
I've often wondered if a terminal interchange in Wentworth Park on the Star Casino leg woul;d be a good idea, with a new link between there and Paddy's Market via Wattle and Macaurthur streets.

The time between Glebe and Pady's Market is about 12 minutes, so a more direct link could save mebe 8-9 minutes, with only crossings on Wattle and Harris street to contend with?
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by boronia »

Linto63 wrote:
tonyp wrote:Where might that be possible? Not likely Lilyfield.
Lilyfield is out as while it could be reconfigured in its current form, the current caged siding will become the headshunt for the new depot. While a centre reversing siding may be preferable, even if peak frequencies were doubled to every 4 minutes, a siding on one side wouldn't cause much if any delay.
Lilyfield will not be a "depot", it is a workshops. There will not be lot of in/out movement, especially as the CSE trams will only access during the night.
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

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Geo101 wrote:I've often wondered if realigning the IWLR tracks between Wentworth Park and Paddy's Market (via Wattle and Mackarthur Streets) would help in any way. It seems that journey between those two stops is an incredible waste of time, ~ 12 minutes)
That's courtesy of the route the heavy line took, effectively being an elongated loop. Given that traffic in that area is already congested the time saving would probably be less than that, and the existing route would still be needed to serve the casino which is probably the busiest stop on the route. The business case would show a poor return, so would be a very low priority.
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by tonyp »

I think I posted a TfNSW paper here some time back that showed all the options under consideration. Dulwich Hill is very much on the cards. It would be disruptive but the original design can still be built. Basically one track where the platform is, an island platform where the track is and another track on the other side of the platform. The biggest obstacle is actually a substation a little to the north that encroaches on the two track alignments. Stupid decisions at the time but they thought the line would be a quiet affair, not busier than any Sydney bus route!
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by gld59 »

tonyp wrote:It would be disruptive but the original design can still be built.
At a terminus with no realistic possibility of line extension, it probably doesn't matter too much having side platforms, *as long as "next tram" indication is sufficient and reliable*.
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by STMPainter2018 »

Linto63 wrote:While the cost of a new tram was probably much higher than a mid-life overhaul, there are other factors that need to be taken into account. Even if all the moving parts were replaced it was still going to be a 20 year old tram. Yes the Variotrams could have been overhauled for another 10-20 years of service, but sometimes when the pros and cons of refurbishment vs new build are weighed up, sending them to an early grave is the conclusion, in the same way that many State Transit Mercedes O405NHs were withdrawn after only 16 years when their gas tanks needed replacing.
The problem is what we got in exchange is a severe downgrade to what we had before. The Variotrams were a superbly built vehicle guided by the expertise of John Dunn. The Urbos 3s are a piece of XXX import; built cheaply, ride badly, and can't even handle a puddle of water. You're being way too forgiving of the government's incompetent practices; 20 years is not too old for a vehicle to be in service. The Varios still had a further 30-40 years left of life left in them and now all but one is gone. It's a massive waste of resources by a state that's quite talented at doing such a thing.
Linto63 wrote:Having one standard fleet is more economical from a parts and engineering staff point of view, particularly with a bespoke fleet. New trams would be more efficient and have superior crashworthiness. The order at a time when the Australian dollar was fairly strong.
Again, not when something is built so cheaply compared to what was being worked on before. Many of the staff, especially engineering, vastly preferred the Variotrams and Transdev campaigned to keep them on the system. But TfNSW wouldn't listen. CAF are con artists plain and simple. The Variotrams were a VASTLY superior tram to what we have now. Praise the lord we now have ALSTOM doing the Sydney system; they seem to know what they're doing from what I've gathered. I weep for Parramatta and Newcastle.
Linto63 wrote:Except they are probably on a long term lease.
The CAFS nor the X05 are not leased at all. They're owned by the government as a transport asset. Or so I would hope.
Linto63 wrote:Multiple transport agencies making the same mistake, or just something that you don't agree with?
I'm sorry this is something I agree with Tony on.
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by STMPainter2018 »

boronia wrote:It is not just the length, there are other compatibility problems between the two systems. These have been explained before.
The only other problem I know of, is the railway standard point-work along the line; specifically the frogs and check rails. From what I've been told, the points have all been slightly modified between Ultimo and Lilyfield so the Citadis cars can over them better. Not full tramway standard that the CSELR has, but according to one of the drivers on Facebook, the X05's actually run along the modified points quite beautifully, provided they go slow enough. And the CAFS are able to take these modifications because again, they have tram-train HYBRID wheels, not railway wheels; they can run over normal tramway points with no problems. Ultimately the way I see it is that this is one step closer to full on conversion of the entire IWLR to proper CSELR tramway standard. Then we'll have a consistent and compatible Light Rail network across the board.
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by Linto63 »

STMPainter2018 wrote:20 years is not too old for a vehicle to be in service.
Didn't suggest it was, trams from the same manufacturer that are approaching 40 remain in service in Melbourne. Merely that at 20 years of age, maybe when the numbers were collated, it came out in favour of replacement rather than refurbishment. Or maybe Gladys just wanted a shiny new toy to ride on.
STMPainter2018 wrote: CAF are con artists plain and simple.
A big call.
STMPainter2018 wrote:The CAFS nor the X05 are not leased at all. They're owned by the government as a transport asset. Or so I would hope.
All of the post 2007 buses that are reported to be TfNSW owned are I believe actually on finance leases, so quite possible the same applies to the trams.
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by moa999 »

Finance lease is as good as owned.

Financially not much different to a specific secured loan over the asset.
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

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STMPainter2018 wrote:
boronia wrote:It is not just the length, there are other compatibility problems between the two systems. These have been explained before.
The only other problem I know of, is the railway standard point-work along the line; specifically the frogs and check rails. From what I've been told, the points have all been slightly modified between Ultimo and Lilyfield so the Citadis cars can over them better. Not full tramway standard that the CSELR has, but according to one of the drivers on Facebook, the X05's actually run along the modified points quite beautifully, provided they go slow enough. And the CAFS are able to take these modifications because again, they have tram-train HYBRID wheels, not railway wheels; they can run over normal tramway points with no problems. Ultimately the way I see it is that this is one step closer to full on conversion of the entire IWLR to proper CSELR tramway standard. Then we'll have a consistent and compatible Light Rail network across the board.
Isn't there a problem with widths? The XO5s are narrower, thus creating DDA problems.
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

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I'd suggest that it's indiscreet to call a reputable manufacturer a con artist. CAF is a decent mainstream manufacturer of a wide range of railway-related products who are commercially very shrewd and accomplished at winning contracts. Their tram design is the bare basic, reliable vehicle needed to win contracts and they're certainly not in the same boat as Breda who were very successful at winning contracts and then supplying unreliable junk.

Sure there are better tram designs on the market, but the biggest score in tenders nowadays is typically given to price. In analyzing the reasons for sub-optimal outcomes, one's eyes need to be focused on TfNSW rather than manufacturers. It's not CAF's fault that it's a shrewd salesman, that's what businesses do. Government agencies on the other hand are supposed to represent the interests of taxpayers and not be gullible, uninformed buyers.
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by STMPainter2018 »

boronia wrote: Isn't there a problem with widths? The XO5s are narrower, thus creating DDA problems.
Yes there is that too but that can be easily fixed; add platform gap fillers so the X05s meet the DDA standards. If you look at the door treads on the Citadis cars, the treads are larger on the inner modules with doors than the outer ones. And the sections of the platforms where these parts of the trams stop, is marked as wheel chair access. So with the IWLR, you'd only need to do it on the sections of platform where the inner modules stop. Or else do the whole length of the platform; that might be easier. BUT WAIT, I hear you cry, what about the Urbos 3s? Well from what people like Matthew have said, you'd only have to remove the door treads on those so they fit the loading gauge. But anyway, this is all just speculation. If all else fails, TfNSW could add a grandfather clause for X05s on the IWLR. But I doubt they'd do that. This is what happens when you don't have a set standard, sigh.......
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Re: Inner West Light Rail observations

Post by STMPainter2018 »

tonyp wrote:I'd suggest that it's indiscreet to call a reputable manufacturer a con artist. CAF is a decent mainstream manufacturer of a wide range of railway-related products who are commercially very shrewd and accomplished at winning contracts. Their tram design is the bare basic, reliable vehicle needed to win contracts and they're certainly not in the same boat as Breda who were very successful at winning contracts and then supplying unreliable junk.

Sure there are better tram designs on the market, but the biggest score in tenders nowadays is typically given to price. In analyzing the reasons for sub-optimal outcomes, one's eyes need to be focused on TfNSW rather than manufacturers. It's not CAF's fault that it's a shrewd salesman, that's what businesses do. Government agencies on the other hand are supposed to represent the interests of taxpayers and not be gullible, uninformed buyers.
Okay I may have come off too harsh in calling CAF con-artists but I'm sorry, as a Sydney-sider who's ridden the Urbos 3's quite a few times, I think y'all are SEVERLY underestimating how XXX these trams really are, or at the very least, how unsuited to the IWLR they are. You only need to ask the maintenance staff at Pyrmont what these trams are like to work on and they'll tell you straight up it's a nightmare, and how much they miss the Variotrams. And I really disagree Tony; I honestly do believe the Urboses are no better than Breda's unreliable junk. And I'm not just talking about lack of doors and power bogie design and how it affects seating, I'm talking about lack of dampers - Variotrams had 8 and rode very well, Urbos 3's only have two or 3 and unlike the X05s don't have axles in their bogies for support so they rock about and creak all over the place on tight curves etc. - the use of incorrect steel on the wheels so they wear down too quickly, the air-conditioning (or lack thereof) not modified for Sydney climate, the fact that they can't run in a shallow pool of water so the motor power connector becomes completely cooked and they can't get a new spare cause of manufacturing conflicts; I could go on. I really did not appreciate the Variotrams in their time because working on 2107 at Loftus, and knowing the backstory behind it and it's sisters and the care John Dunn put into them to make sure they could run for 30-40 years, really opened my eyes to what a load of cheap junk we got in their place. The Urbos 3's are what the Variotrams COULD'VE been had John Dunn not stepped in. And I will say Tony, I definitely agree that tenders are given to price, and that's ESPECIALLY true of CAF's trams, but I disagree that this is all on TfNSW; CAF takes a share of blame for why we have sub-optimal outcomes on the current Inner West line. Sure they could've been given more doors and better seating had Transport known what they were doing, but that doesn't change the fact that they would've been shoddily built and terrible to maintain. In terms of tram design, CAF are now where ALSTOM were when they introduced the Melbourne C class trams; completely hopeless. Again, this is all just going off their tram products, but I stand by my belief that CAF's trams are crap and they should be removed with a superior product - aka the Citadis cars - as soon as possible. Bottom line cut and dry.
Last edited by STMPainter2018 on Fri Nov 29, 2019 7:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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