NSW Govt adjusts traffic lights in Newcastle to improve tram awareness

Transport for NSW has released a statement urging road users in the Newcastle CBD to be tram aware due to a number of near misses since the launch of the city’s light rail service in February.

Road and maritime services director for the Hunter, Anna Zycki said that there had been in excess of 200 near misses around Stewart Avenue, Steel Street and Worth Place in the last few months due to motorists travelling through red lights and nearly colliding with trams that have the right of way.

In response to these incidents, Roads and Maritime Services has adjusted traffic light phasing and installed new signs at Stewart Avenue to raise awareness among drivers of passing trams. Zycki added that signs would also be installed on Steel Street “in coming weeks”.

Keolis Downer employee and tram driver Corey Moore and NSW Police Chief Inspector Amanda Calder joined Zycki in stressing the importance of vigilance among drivers as the light rail service becomes increasingly embraced.

“NSW Police will be out monitoring driver behaviour around the sites over coming weeks, but it’s important to remember police can be out in force, new signage can be put in, and traffic lights can be adjusted, but at the end of the day – drivers and other road users need to be aware of their surroundings and take care on and around the road,” she said.

Moore added that drivers should always be aware around light rail tracks.

“As tram drivers, we are trained to look out for other drivers and pedestrians,” he said. “We are being extremely cautious as we travel through intersections, but trams can’t stop quickly or easily and the close calls we’ve had are really concerning.”

The Newcastle Light Rail service, part of Transport for NSW’s Revitalising Newcastle project, launched on February 17 and runs 2.7 kilometres from Wickham to Newcastle Beach.

Over 63km of track removed in first phase of Inland Rail project

The Australasian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has now removed over 63 kilometres of existing rail line from the Inland Rail construction in Parkes, New South Wales.

The project, a partnership between the Australian Government and private sector, is intended to upgrade the national freight network between Melbourne and Brisbane by developing regional lines across Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

The works on the section of line between Parkes and Narromine represent the first of a planned 13 Inland Rail projects encompassing over 1700 kilometres.

The track, which has been removed from the freight line between Parkes and Narromine (the P2N project), will be recycled and repurposed for Pacific National’s Intermodal Terminal in Parkes as well as other parts of the NSW rail network.

“It’s just one of the ways we keep our commitment to sustainability,” the ARTC stated in an inaugural project newsletter.

In addition to the track removal, over 100,000 cubic metres of material has been removed as a result of ongoing earthworks.

The works are being carried out by INLink, a joint venture between BMD Group and Fulton Hogan, which is focused on upgrading existing links, building new embankments and culverts, and upgrading signage, signals, level crossings and fencing.

The ARTC stated that they would install over 4000 culverts across the project in total.

Neighbouring projects include the southerly Stockinbingal to Parkes (S2P) project and northerly Narromine to Narrabri (N2N) project, which are both currently in the project feasibility stage.

The ARTC held its first community forum on the project, with two more set to follow on June 19 at the ARTC Community and Working Hub in Parkes and on June 20 at Peak Hill RSL in Peak Hill.

Waratah

Sydney Trains brings carriage occupancy indicators to stations

Commuters at certain Sydney rail stations will now be able to see how crowded trains are in advance thanks to the introduction of occupancy indicator screens.

The indicator screens will indicate carriages with seats, standing room only carriages and completely full carriages using a colour-coding system. Red indicates that a carriage is full, amber indicates standing room only and green means that seats are still available.

The data is determined by weight sensors on the carriages that can indicate how many commuters are in each carriage and where spaces are still available. The technology is now brand new, but it is the first time the data has been made available at stations. Commuters previously had to access the data through the Transport for NSW Trip Planner (which launched in May last year), or other travel apps such as TripView, TripGo and Transport for NSW’s Opal app.

“The carriage capacity indicator has been available on real-time apps for more than a year and it has proven to be a great way for customers to quickly find out where seats are available on a train,” said NSW Minister for Transport Andrew Constance.

The station displays are currently usable at stops with Waratah trains, including the T1 North Shore and Western Lines. The system is one of several implementations being made at certain stations in preparation for the launch of Sydney Metro’s North West line on May 26.

The 36km North West line, which started construction in 2011, will run across 13 stations from Tallawong to Chatswood.

“When Metro opens in a week people are going to have to adjust to a whole new way of getting around Sydney, including transferring onto the existing rail network at Chatswood to get into the city,” Constance said.

“These capacity indicators will help passengers know where to go on the platform to get onto the train quickly and easily.”

Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 Project endorsed by over 70 organisations

Businesses and community organisations have expressed sentiments to the NSW Government encouraging the development of Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2.

Organisations such as the City of Parramatta, Property Council of Australia, Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue, Tourism & Transport Forum, NSW Business Chamber and Sydney Olympic Business Association wrote a letter to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance asking that the final business case for the project be released.

A survey of local residents by the Western Sydney Business Chamber and Olympic Park Business Association showed that 75 per cent of participants supported final route and start date commitments on the project.

“This project will be of massive benefit to Western Sydney and we are actively encouraging the NSW Government to get cracking on Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 as a priority of transport policy,” said Western Sydney Business Chamber executive director David Borger.

“The Greater Sydney Commission and the NSW Government talk about the goal of creating a ‘30-minute city’ – Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 together with Sydney Metro West will help deliver that vision.”

Early works commenced on Stage 1 of the $2.4 billion project in January this year.

Stage 1 of the project, which is expected to open to the public in 2023, will connect Westmead to Carlingford via the Parramatta CDB and Camellia.

Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 is planned to connect to the developing Stage 1 line via Camellia. It will run to Sydney Olympic Park, Ermington, Melrose Park and Wentworth Point and is expected to open by 2025.

Earlier this month, Parramatta Light Rail revealed that the development would include a 1km stretch of ‘green track’, with grass and shrubbery running alongside the tracks at Cumberland Hospital, Robin Thomas Reserve and Tramway Avenue.

Labor promises $1bn for Queensland-Victoria high speed rail link

Labor says it will invest $1 billion to begin securing the corridor for a high speed line running from Brisbane to Sydney should it win the federal election on May 18.

The plans for the proposed 1,748km route would build on a feasibility study produced under Julia Gillard’s Labor Government in 2013. The feasibility study suggested that the nation-building project would return over two dollars in public benefit for every dollar invested.

“As Australia’s strong population growth continues in coming years, the already established case for High Speed Rail will become more compelling,” said Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development Anthony Albanese.

“If we start to acquire the corridor now, we will protect it from development and thereby minimise costs.”

The 2013 study envisaged a train capable of travelling up to 350km/h across rail link running between Melbourne and Brisbane via Sydney with spur lines to Canberra and the Gold Coast.

In keeping with the plans laid out in the document, Labor plans to create a High Speed Rail Authority, working with the ACT and east coast state governments to commence land acquisitions and finalise track alignments.

Albanese added that the project would bring regional communities closer to capital cities, increasing commuting and strengthening the case for investment in regional businesses.

“The project will also be an economic game-changer for communities along its path, including the Gold Coast, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Southern Highlands, Canberra, Wagga Wagga and Shepparton,” he said.