Capacity constraints are hampering efforts to run more trams on Sydney’s inner west line rail line, a “sensitive” briefing document for the NSW transport and infrastructure minister reveals.
Acquired by The Sydney Morning Herald under freedom-of-information laws, the document indicates that power supply, stabling facilities, fleet size, and a single track near Dulwich Hill are limiting an increase of services of the Central Station to Dulwich Hill line during the morning peak.
According to the document, the line has experienced “unprecedented growth” in patronage over the last two years, exceeding the expectations of government transport plans.
In 2013-14 there were a total of 3.9 million passenger journeys; in 2015-16, that figure reached 8.9 million. The report states that this comes to an approximate year on year increase in demand of 56 per cent.
The growth is expected to continue, with significant developments occurring or planned along the light rail route.
The announcement of extra services last week will mean that morning peak hours between 7am and 10am will be serviced by trams arriving 8 minutes apart.
The document indicates this is the maximum that can be achieved by the current 12 trams that make up the light rail fleet, while the current power supply is able to support a maximum frequency of 6 minutes.
Moreover, there is only a single track on the Dulwich Hill approach at Signal 51, causing vehicles arriving to wait while another vehicle is between Signal 51 and Dulwich Hill.
“The eight-minute frequency cannot be improved on unless additional track is laid in this section,” the document states.
“However, if shuttle services were to operate between Central and Lilyfield, this would not be a constraint.”
The document states that Transport for NSW planned to conduct a passenger load survey in the second half of 2016, and also indicated that a “scoping exercise” had been carried out in June that year, which would determine future requirements and lead to the development of a “potential Strategic Business Case”.
Transport for NSW has also considered the purchase of more light rail vehicles; however, it would reportedly take 21 to 22 months from the date of order to have vehicles servicing the line.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Transport for NSW has refused to release more recent documents that might give further insight into plans for dealing with demand growth on the inner west line.