Director, Infrastructure Projects,
Department of Planning & Infrastructure,
GPO Box 39, Sydney, NSW, 2001.
North West Rail Link - Stations, Rail Infrastructure and Systems - 2nd EIS
Application Number - SSI-5414
The second Environmental Impact Statement for this project was placed on display on 31 October 2012 and submissions to the proposal are due by 3 December.
The second EIS focuses on:
- Design and operation of the eight new railway stations at Cherrybrook, Castle Hill, Showground, Norwest, Bella Vista, Kellyville, Rouse Hill and Cudgegong Rd;
- Commuter parking for 4,000 cars;
- How the rapid transit rail link operates, including the new generation single deck trains announced as part of Sydney's Rail Future;
- Transport interchanges;
- Areas around the railway stations; and
- Rail infrastructure like railway tracks and signalling systems.
We give qualified support to the overall proposal because it is a necessary and long overdue addition to Sydney's public transport network. However, we note that the line cannot work properly until a new City railway with a new harbour crossing are operating; the EIS should give reasons why the NWRL is being built first.
Also, we are concerned that the Epping-Bellavista tunnels are to be bored at about 6.1 metres diameter. Several experts have pointed out that the narrow bore puts constraints on the future expansion of Sydney's rail network.
EIS2 refers to the "design and operation of 8 new stations". Many of the new stations are underground. It is thus not possible for passengers on the trains to identify them by their surroundings, as happens with surface stations. The design of these new stations at platform level should be unique for each station. This could be assisted by the bold use of colour.
Each station should be readily identifiable from the train as it enters the station. The lack of easy identification is a major failing of the stations on the existing Epping - Chatswood Rail Link (ECRL). The appearance of the platforms at those stations is of a uniform grey colour. These existing platforms should be refurbished in such a way as to make them also readily identifiable from the trains.
EIS2 also deals with "areas around the stations". This raises the subject of wayfinding for people exiting the stations.
Great care should be applied to the provision of wayfinding maps at the exits of each of the stations. The maps provided at the existing stations on the ECRL are unsatisfactory and should be upgraded. Where stations have more than one entrance / exit, consideration should be given to assigning letters or numbers to each exit to facilitate identification by passengers for wayfinding or for arranging meetings etc.
We are concerned that most of the M2 express bus services are to be withdrawn when the NWRL opens. Professor Hensher has noted that the M2 will remain the fastest ride to the CBD from most north-west origins; it is a retrograde step to force users of those buses onto a slower service.
We note that the proposed stations on the NWRL are spaced on average about 3km apart. So are the stations on the Epping-Chatswood line. The advantages of single-deck trains (quick acceleration, short station dwell times) vanish when the stations are so far apart. There should be a full explanation as to why single-deck technology is being introduced on the NWRL instead of on a line with closer stations e.g. Central-Hurstville or Central-Ashfield-Homebush.
26 November 2012