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Australian News Update 19th March 2019

Posted by: Paul Harris
19/03/2019
Industry News

$80 million investment for Sydney route

Minister for transport and infrastructure Andrew Constance has announced an initial $80 million investment on the Canberra to Sydney route as a part of a $295 million investment in a fast rail network. 

The project will see a shorter commute to Canberra and Sydney as well as a new straightened route to “a high speed standard” between Menangle and Yerrinbool. The works will also make other regions such as Nowra, Newcastle and the Central West connected on a fast rail network with Sydney.

“We're going for shorter-style, new regional trains,” Constance explained. “At the same time we're moving to a regional links service, which is going to have a profound impact in terms of getting people on board. These are world-class, modern-day trains. The current fleet is starting to head towards around 40 years in age, they're really past their shelf life in that sense.”

Constance didn’t give a schedule for completion but said that funding was a part of a 10-year capital works project and was thanks to the “strong economic management of the NSW Liberals and Nationals government.” 

Constance confirmed that the Liberal and National government was “already working on it” and was committed to start work in the next term of government. “We've done a lot of assessment work already on this line. There are constraints but sometimes just doing simple things can have a profound impact,” he said.

The government is seeking advice from strategic technical adviser Professor Andrew McNaughton on the best way forward for the project.  Full story.

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Images from itbrief.com.au & railwaypro.com

Digital upgrade could boost Sydney trains

A modernisation of Sydney’s rail network could be the rejuvenation the city needs, according to Sydney Trains' chief executive Howard Collins.

With the rail system experiencing record growth in passengers, Collins said a digital upgrade of the signalling system would be the “biggest improvement we can make to the capacity of this city.” Despite a proposed cost of $3 billion the boost to the network could be achieve “in a very short space of time.”

Collins, a former head of London Underground, explained how digital signalling would be a “great return on relatively cheap investment,” because it would boost the rail network's capacity by up to 40% through new lines and upgrades to existing lines.

Collins was quick to clarify that his proposal would complement, rather than compete with, current projects by providing a quicker solution. “It doesn’t say it’s an alternative to Metro West and Metro Southwest,” he said. “It actually gives us a lift in capacity quicker than trying to build metro north, south, east and west.”

However, the bulk of Labor’s $3bn investment promise is dedicated to new metro train lines, such as the underground line from central Sydney to Parramatta, and a link between St Marys and Western Sydney Airport. Collins admitted that improvements to existing services (rather than exciting new lines) would be difficult to sell to the public and politicians, even though it could lead better safety and more reliable services.

A digital upgrade to signalling would enable trains to travel closer together, thereby increasing frequency. Automating protection systems on trains and tracks is also designed to allow trains to run at higher speeds while improving safety and reliability. Full story.

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