23 December 2016
SYDNEY The cost of operating the new light rail line has leapt 70% to $938m Construction costs for the 12km long north – south line are $2.1bn, a rise of $549m in expected costs. The route runs from Circular Quay dividing into two branches. One runs more or less south to Kingsford, and the other south east to Randwick via Randwick Racecourse. Both branches serve different parts of the University of New South Wales. Trams are no longer to have priority at traffic lights along the route and this will add several minutes to the end-to-end running time.
NEW ZEALAND Kiwi Rail announced on 21 December 2016 that it was to abandon the 25kV AC 50 Hz electrification on a long section of the North – South Main Line in North Island. The 410 km section of the 680 km long Auckland – Wellington trunk line between Palmerston North and Hamilton were electrified in the mid 1980s and heavy freight services between the cities must change locomotives twice on each journey. Sixteen Class EF electric locomotives were obtained from Brush in 1986-8 to work these trains and failure rates have risen recently to an unacceptable level. To work right through with the same locomotive (or more commonly pair of locomotives) will be much more efficient and only eight new diesel locomotives will be required to replace the electrics. The overhead line equipment will be retained and kept in tip-top condition in case an urgent need arises. The short electrified sections in South Island through the Otira Tunnel and between Christchurch and the port of Lyttelton were both dieselised many years ago and the Christchurch suburban service was abandoned at the same time. The network of DC suburban routes at Wellington and the recently AC electrification of suburban routes in Auckland will not be affected.
10 December 2016
SYDNEY The New South Wales Government is planning to build a second Metro line that would link Sydney city centre with Parramatta following a mostly below ground route. It would connect with the first Metro line which is now under construction linking Bankstown and Epping via the City Centre.
29 July 2016
HIGH SPEED Yet another plan to build a high-speed railway between Sydney and Melbourne seems to be making progress. The $200 billion 917km long line would include eight intermediate stops although a majority of the services would run non-stop taking as little as 1 hour 50 minutes. The air service between the cities is the third busiest inter-city route in the world.
MELBOURNE A collision on a level crossing at Pirron Yallock on 13 July 2016 involving a Warrnambool train has given extensive publicity to the level crossing problem in Victoria. This crossing involves a line that is getting steadily busier as suburban services are extended across this crossing. The railway is crossed by a gravel road serving several large and busy farms and the crossing itself has no barriers or warning lights although they were about to be installed. There are many dozens of crossings with similar deficiencies across Victoria and the Government is being urged to rectify the situation rapidly.
5 July 2016
WELLINGTON Suburban services around the capital Wellington are now provided by the fleet of 83 Matangi emu sets obtained from Hyundai-Rotem in South Korea. The last of the 60 year old English Electric sets used latterly only on the Johnsonville branch was retired in 2012. Now the fleet of forty four 2-car sets built in Hungary by Ganz-Mavag in 1982 was retired on 27 May 2016. The last service was strengthened from one unit to two to accommodate the large number of enthusiasts wishing to have a last ride. One Ganz-Mavag set (Motor car 1373 with trailer 3373) is preserved at the Ferrymead Museum near Christchurch on South Island.
26 June 2016
NEWCASTLE (NSW) Construction of the short tramway that will operate from the new Wickham Transport Hub along right of way of the former railway to a point beyond the former railway terminus will commence in 2018. The area around Wickham Interchange is attracting new businesses and new developments are taking place along the tramway route on which there will be five stops. Most of the tram route will be on the old railway right-of-way. But some sections will be in a reserved lane on Hunter Street Five trams will be needed – four to be in service with one acting as a spare.
BRISBANE (QLD) Test operations with the emus are taking place along the new 12.6 km long Moreton Bay branch which leaves the North Main Line at Petrie and will serve five new stations.
WELLINGTON The Karori Tunnel was built to accommodate services worked by single deck trams and now by single deck trolleybuses. Traffic lights control access to the tunnel which is not wide enough to allow traffic to move both ways simultaneously.
AUCKLAND The electrified local railways are building up traffic steadily from 15m passengers carried two years ago to 16m last year. Buses and ferries are also gaining traffic, but at a slower rate so the proportion using rail has crept up to almost 20%.
23 May 2016
NEWCASTLE (NSW). The transformation of public transport feeding into the city centre is under way. The centrally placed terminal station was closed a few years ago and a new terminus established at Wickham about 2 miles out of the central area. Wickham is becoming a hub for railway, light rail, bus, and drop off/pick up facilities. A light rail line is being built from Wickham along the old railway right of way slightly south of the Hunter River with stops along the way to serve various parts of the city centre and with a suggested opening date of 2019. The intermediate stops and places served are as follows, starting from Wickham: Honeysuckle (university campus); Civic (city council offices, court house, major university complex, theatres, TV studios, major museums); Crown Street (Business offices); Market Street (Queens Wharf, Cathedral); then after passing through the site of the old station Pacific Park (Hotels, Custom House). This light rail line is planned to have a 10 minute frequency service for much of the day given by four new LRVs with a fifth acting as a spare. There are potential extensions from this initial route including one continuing back from Wickham along the railway to Broadmeadow.
WELLINGTON Traffic on the suburban services totalled 11.9m in 2015 – a rise of 5.2% compared with 2014 including an exceptional 16% on the Kapiti Line which runs to the north coast. Traffic is the highest ever and a fare increase in the immediate future has been avoided. Greater Wellington Regional Council, Transdev, and Hyundai-Rotem entered into a 9 year agreement on 17 March 2016 for the operation of the suburban services. Depending on results it is extendible by up to a further six years. The first of the new 2-car Matangi emus has arrived and being tested before entering service. They are manufactured by Hyundai-Rotem at their factory at Changwon, South Korea. The unreliable oldest stock (English Electric) has been withdrawn and reliability of the services has risen sharply. Time keeping was affected for a time by storm damage to the sea wall near Petone on the Kapiti Line but repairs have been completed.
20 April 2016
WELLINGTON The Greater Wellington Regional Council has awarded the contract to operate the suburban rail services in the city to Transdev Wellington Ltd with Hyundai Rotem. Transdev already operates the commuter services around Auckland while Hyundai already maintains the Matangi emu fleet that works the Wellington services. The new contract comes into force on 1 July 2016 and is for a nine year period with two three year extensions dependant on performance during the initial period of operation.
8 April 2016
BRISBANE A new ten road emu depot – the Wulkuraka Maintenance Centre – was opened on 13 February 2016. It will be possible to undertake routine maintenance there and also wheel re-profiling using the Centre’s wheel lathe. New emus for the city’s network are being assembled at Bombardier’s Savli Depot in India.
SYDNEY Patronage on the light rail lines rose by 60% during 2014-5 compared to the year earlier. 6.1m passengers were carried compared with 3.9 in the earlier year. Service frequency has been increased during the morning and evening peaks from 10 minutes to 8 minutes. The “evening peak” has been extended by one hour to 1900.
25 March 2016
PERTH A design and build contract for a 5.3 mile long branch to serve Forrestfield Airport has been awarded to a consortium including Impreglio and NRW. The following link gives more information.
12 March 2016
NEW SOUTH WALES The proportion of operating costs for Sydney suburban and commuter services recovered from fare receipts is a dismal 19.1%. The average Sydney citizen makes only 135 trips on any form of public transport during a year compared with 400 in Zurich or 500 in Vienna. Any major fare increase would produce an adverse reaction from the travellers but local politicians feel that if much more use was made of the trains, buses, and ferries then the high amount of subsidy required would be felt to be better value for money. It has been proposed that season tickets at attractive low fares be offered in order to increase the number of users who might also use public transport for evening trips and might encourage other people to travel with them. Coupled with renewed efforts to identify and eliminate wasteful working practices might result in the level of subsidy being considered to be good value for money.
MELBOURNE Up to 50 level crossing throughout the city are to be replaced during a long period of years. In most cases the railway will be lowered under the road and an adjacent station will be relocated on the new underpass section. The first where work has been completed is at Gardiner Station where the level crossing with Burke Road has for long been a cause of troublesome delays to road users. Work on the new section of railway together with the new Gardiner Station was completed on 13 January 2016. The next two crossings to be tackled will be the crossing with High Street and the adjacent Reservoir Station, and the crossing with Bell Street with Bell Station in suburban Preston.
22 February 2016
NEW SOUTH WALES A light rail line 22km long is planned to link Westmead Hospital with downtown Parramatta continuing to West Sydney University, Olympic Park and terminating at Strathfield. The heavy rail branch to Carlington will be converted to light rail and become a branch of the new light railway network. Very good news is the fact that fare evasion on all types of public transport – train, light railway, bus and ferry, has been slashed by over 50%.
WELLINGTON The City Council has decided to replace the entire modern trolley bus fleet with conventional buses. A network of new high density bus routes will be established and the aim is to ensure that at least 75% of the city’s population will live within one km of one of the new routes.
22 December 2015
AUCKLAND Patronage on the suburban railway network rose by 21.7% during September 2015 compared 2014. Pukekohe station is to be rebuilt as a transportation hub with six bus bays for interchanging passengers, a car park with 80 spaces.
2 November 2015
SYDNEY An arson attack on a storage barn on 23 October 2015 destroyed several historic trams and buses all of which had been awaiting restoration at the Sydney Tramway Museum. An 1898 tram that had been used as an engineering department car for many years was about to be transferred to the museum to be converted back to its original condition. Two trams from 1911, and three from the 1930s were also lost. Four buses from the 1940s and 1950s were also destroyed.
MELBOURNE The construction of a transport hub at the totally rebuilt Frankston station together with the electrification of the line to Baxter will cost an estimated $63m. Meanwhile contracts have been issued for the removal of four extremely busy level crossings in Blackburn and Mitcham.
PERTH Going against nation-wide tends the number of fare passengers has dropped two years running. The loss in 2014-5 was 1.5% against 2.6% in the previous twelve months. However the total number of passengers carried has actually risen by 0.8% due to the large number of passengers with entrance tickets to major events whose ticket gives them free travel to the exhibition site.
AUCKLAND The usage of suburban rail services rose by 22.7% during the past year to reach a total of 14.4m.
1 October 2015
GOLD COAST The Queensland Government is seeking expressions of interest from civil engineering firms in building the next 7.3 km section of the light railway from Gold Coast University Hospital to Helensvale.
4 September 2015
ADELAIDE The plans to extend the tramway to Outer Harbor, Port Adelaide, Semaphore, and West Lakes seems to have been dropped in favour of the original plan to electrify the railway Outer Harbor and build branches to the other destinations. A significant pro-light rail lobby is still pressing for tramways. Comprehensive plans for the development of all forms of transport across Greater Adelaide have been announced. In addition to the electrification of the Outer Harbor group of lines, electrification is also proposed to Gawler. New light rail/tramway lines are proposed east to Magill, and west to Henley with a branch to the airport. A new city centre loop line would be built to connect with the heavy rail station and all the radial tramway routes.
NEW ZEALAND The national railway system, Kiwirail, is very short of money and attempts to increase the volume of freight traffic have so far failed. It is now considering the sale of various major station complexes, most of which see very little use today, and the first to be put on the market is Wellington Station. There is heavy suburban traffic but this can be handled in about one third of the site and the solitary long-distance train needs little space.
3 August 2015
WELLINGTON Because there is only a single platform at Upper Hutt station where the inner suburban emus terminate, trains from Masterton forming the Wairatara service may have to sit for ten minutes waiting for the platform to become free. There are no immediate plans to enlarge the station.
AUCKLAND During the past year patronage of the local rail services has risen by 22%. However the outer section of the Western Line between Swanson and Waitakere was closed during July 2015 and replaced by a bus shuttle service. The difficulties and eventual cost of enlarging the Waitakere Tunnel to provide space for the overhead power cables was considered too costly. Freight services to the north of North Island will continue and a dmu service to Waitakere and beyond may eventually be provided. Severe congestion at the city centre Britomart terminus is a direct result of the rising traffic and has highlighted the need for the City Rail Link that would spread the traffic out over additional city centre stations. Britomart can handle only 20 trains per hour but with the Link is use there could be up to 48 trains per hour.
1 July 2015
GOLD COAST The new light railway carried its 5 millionth passenger on 6 May 2015 – well under a year after the opening of the line on 20 July 2014. Currently 17,800 passengers are carried each day.
SYDNEY Construction of the Central Business District light rail line is to begin on 23 October 2015 between King and Market Streets. The initial section will run along the central spine from Central to Circular Quay and then to the south east through Moore Park and on to Randswick. Costing $2.2bn, the project will cause three years of massive disruption and “pain” for users of the CBD. At times civil engineering work will be under way at up to 31 different locations but the worst period of difficulties will be between August 2016 and May 2017 when there will be major works at seventeen locations. Special bus services will be introduced to help people get around the engineering sites and tolls on some roads around the city centre may be removed in recognition of the total disruption to normal travel.
PERTH Three consortia have been shortlisted to bid for a “design and build” contract for a planned 8.5km long underground rail link to the Airport and adjacent suburbs. Leaving the Midland line at Bayswater Junction the route will pass below the Swan River then will serve three stations. First will be Airport West serving the suburb of Belmont, then Perth Airport underneath the redeveloped airport hub, then finally Forrestfield serving suburbs along the foothills of the Perth Hills. For more information please click on the link below.
AUCKLAND The entire suburban rail network became electrically worked from 16 May 2015. Services are worked by a 57-strong fleet of three car CAF emus.
4 June 2015
NEW ZEALAND The 25kV AC electrification along the North Island main line completed between Palmerston North and Hamilton in 1988 may be abandoned. Twenty two class EF locomotives were supplied by Brush for this route of which two have been scrapped following crash damage while three are out of service awaiting expensive repairs. With the extension of the Wellington suburban electrification over a section at the south end of the main line and the near elimination of passenger services over the Palmerston North – Hamilton section it is considered that just twelve powerful diesel locomotives (from China) will be able to handle the relatively heavy freight traffic over the route. Traffic carried on the Auckland suburban network has risen by 33% during the past two years.
10 April 2015
MELBOURNE An additional five six-car Xtrapolis emus have been ordered to fill a gap in train availability. In addition the order will keep the Alstom train building plant in Ballarat open since it would otherwise have had to close with the dispersal of an experienced staff that would be difficult to replace from scratch.
25 March 2015
CHRISTCHURCH The extension to the city centre tramway was finally given a ceremonial opening on 12 February 2015 – just four years late due to the extensive damage caused by a massive earthquake that occurred shortly before the planned date. A ceremonial parade of vintage trams that are normally kept at the Ferrymead Museum toured the new route.
9 March 2015
MELBOURNE The long planned rebuilding of Flinders Street Station may not go ahead because the business case for the work is weak.
AUCKLAND The first electrically worked services on the Southern Main Line commenced operation on 15 January 2015. Initially the emus are operating as far as Papakura and during the off-peak hours only.
16 January 2015
NEW SOUTH WALES The State Railway went ahead with its planned closure of the excellently placed Newcastle station on Christmas Day 2014. There had been very loud protests against the closure which sees trains stopping well short of the city centre forcing passengers to change to buses (or their private cars) since the planned light rail line is nowhere in sight. A Court Order was issued in a bid to halt the closure but all that this does is to prevent the railway authorities from lifting the track or disposing of the site. The reason for the closure is to prevent major hold ups to road traffic at level crossings but the immediate effect of the closure appears to be a significant increase in the number of vehicles on the roads resulting in even more delays.
1 December 2014
BRISBANE Southern Queensland was struck by a devastating storm on 28 November 2014 with winds up to 140 mph and hailstones of remarkably large size. There was considerable damage to structures and overhead power cables. As a result the entire Brisbane suburban rail service was at a standstill. During the G20 Summit of world leaders held in Brisbane on 14-16 November 2014 public transport was modified. Rail services were diverted away from the city centre while bus services followed a special public holiday timetable.
BENDIGO This Victorian outpost is growing so rapidly that suggestions have been made that suburban rail services may soon be required in order to prevent serious road congestion.
AUCKLAND Traffic on the suburban routes in Auckland rose by 17.5% during the past year and the total number of passengers is now almost identical to those using the Wellington system – 12m passenger journeys in a year.
7 November 2014
QUEENSLAND In an effort to attract people out of their cars fares on State-wide public transport were cut by 5% from 03 November 2014 and will remain frozen throughout 2015. The new Gold Coast light railway was gaining traffic steadily and was being used by 18,500 passengers each weekday by mid October 2014.
NEW SOUTH WALES Construction work on the new North West Rail Line (NWRL) is progressing well and adhering to the planned timetable. As part of the work the Epping – Chatswood railway will be closed for up to six months for extensive upgrade work before it is joined to the NWRL and it will require 75 buses to provide the necessary road replacement services during this work. Amid loud protests and much controversy the Sydney to Newcastle main line which includes the main line north towards Queensland, and quite heavy suburban traffic is to be cut back 4km to Hamilton from 27 December 2014 to ease congestion caused at a key level crossing. The land occupied by Newcastle Station would be available for redevelopment. A new tramway from Hamilton to take railway passengers through the city centre is planned but cannot be in service for at least two years.
VICTORIA Suburban rail services from Melbourne (Southern Cross Station) to the Geelong line were extended to a new station at Waurn Ponds from 12 October 2014. Many trains on the route terminate at Geelong itself but others go one station further to Marshall. Now most of the Marshall terminators have been extended to Waurn Ponds and some connecting bus routes that fed the railway at Marshall now do so at Waurn Ponds instead to which there is now a roughly hourly off peak and half hourly peak service. Waurn Ponds station has a 292 space car park with 100-150 other spaces nearby.
AUCKLAND The use made of the improved suburban rail services rose by 16% to 11.7 million in the year to August 2014. Electrification work on the west line is now virtually complete and the debate continues on where extensions to the network might be built.
28 August 2014
PERTH An unusual incident during the morning rush hour on 6 August 2014 happened at Stirling Station on the Joondalup line which runs north west from Perth Low Level station. Stirling is the third station from Perth just 9 km from the city. Joondalup is 26km from the city and this line has been extended to Clarkson (33.2km) and soon will reach Butler (40.7km). A crowd was boarding their city-bound train when one passenger slipped and a leg became jammed between the platform edge and the coach side. Ironically there was a “mind the gap” warning on the platform at this location. The passenger could not free himself and a request that all passengers move to the far side of the coach to try to tilt the body failed. Then came the solution. Everyone got out of the coach and all pushed the coach together. It worked! The train body moved sufficiently for the leg to be freed and the commuter was able to travel in to work a little later in the morning.
GOLD COAST The G:Link light railway between the Southport railway interchange, Griffiths University, the Gold Coast University Hospital, and Broadbeach/Surfers Paradise was opened on 20 July 2014. The new line attracted massive crowds of passengers and uses 14 Bombardier Flexity 2 trams operating a nine minute frequency service. The trams are in an attractive bright yellow livery displaying a large “G” logo on the end segments. (See link below.)
16 July 2014
GOLD COAST The LRT system in the booming seaside community is to open for public service on 20 July 2014.
For more information please visit the website of GoldLinQ Light Rail:
AUCKLAND The first day of public emu-operated suburban services was 28 April 2014. A unit operated between the Auckland terminus and Onehunga.
2 July 2014
SYDNEY Hill International has been awarded the contract to manage the construction of the new North West Rail Link (NWRL) which is the largest public transport infrastructure project currently under way in New South Wales. Costing A$8.3bn the new railway into the growing north west suburbs will include twin tunnels 15km long (between Bella Vista and Epping), eight new stations, and car parks containing 4000 spaces. The NWRL is the first part of Sydney Rapid Transit – the first fully-automated transit system in Australia. A new fleet of automatic operation emus plus the stabling and maintenance facilities are part of Hill International’s contract.
You can read more at the following link:
3 June 2014
ADELAIDE The first electric trains entered service on 23 February 2014 between Adelaide and Seaford. Electrified at 25kV 50 Hz, this 1600 mm gauge line route had been known as the Noarlunga Line but has been renamed the Seaford Line following the 5.7km extension of the route to Seaford with an intermediate park and ride station at Seaford Meadows.
AUCKLAND Steady progress is being made with the rehabilitation and electrification of the suburban rail routes. The main line runs from the Britomart terminus through a rebuilt Newmarket interchange station then south through Penrose, Papatoetoe, Homai to Papakura. At present suburban trains run beyond Papakura to Pukekohe but this last section is not being electrified and will be served by connecting dmu shuttles. A brand new branch off the southern line to Manukau was opened in 2011. The Eastern Line runs from Britomart through Glen Innes and new new station at Sylvia Park to join the Southern Line at Westfield and services continue along the Southern line to Manukau and Papakura. The short branch off the Southern Line at Penrose to Onehunga was the first section to be served by the new 3-car emus and there are long-term plans to extend the branch to the Airport. The Western Line operates from Britomart to Mount Eden, New Lynn, Swanson, and Waitakere and some trains operate via Newmarket where they reverse to continue westwards. The Western route is being cut back by one station to Swanson since a long tunnel between the two points will cost too much to give the headroom required for the overhead power wire. A shuttle bus will serve Waitakere in future. It is planned to offer services every ten minutes on most sections during peak hours.
13 May 2014
WELLINGTON The fleet of two-car Ganz emus, used until recently on the Wellington suburban lines, have been sold for use on suburban services in South Africa.
28 April 2014
AUCKLAND. Planning for the City Rail Link under the heart of the city has reached the stage where land requirements have now been decided and the next 18 months will take the detailed planning to a stage when contracts to build the line can go out to tender. The City Rail Link is a 3.4 km long line most of which will be in twin tunnels. From the present terminus at Britomart close to the ferry termini, the line will proceed in cut and cover tunnels for 1 km to the first new station at Aotea. This station will be 13m below ground level and close to the Auckland Tower. Beyond Aotea the route will be in bored tunnels for the next 2 km. The second new station will be Karangahape Road 33m below the road of this name. The last new station is Newton Street 42m below ground level and in an area ripe for new developments. The new line then comes into the open to join the Western Line at Mount Eden station. Not only will the City Rail Link stimulate new development along much of the route but it will create extra capacity that will make possible such dreams as a railway to the International Airport or to the North Shore communities.
8 April 2014
SYDNEY The latest extension of the light rail route operating from Central Station has attracted massive traffic – much more than had been expected. The initial short section from Sydney Central Station west to Wentworth Park opened in August 1997 but attracted low levels of traffic. Running along the track bed of an old freight line to the docks this section was never expected to be busy. The next section to Lilyfield opened in August 2000 and although rush hour workings were fairly well filled the level of traffic was overall disappointing. On 27 March 2014 a further extension was opened running west to Leichhardt North then south to Dulwich Hill serving in all nine new stops. This time the route has hit the jackpot and LRVs are running so full that passengers are being left behind at some stops. A ten minute frequency service is operated and four LRVs have been leased to boost the fleet until twelve new LRVs have arrived and been tested. Three new trams are apparently almost ready to enter service but the others have not yet been delivered. Only after these trams have entered service can the service frequency be increased.
5 March 2014
BRISBANE A new town has been developed at Springfield, about 25km south west of downtown Brisbane. In order to accommodate the expected substantial traffic that would move along this corridor, a double track electrified branch was built from Darra on the Ipswich route (the western main line) serving three stations – Richlands, Springfield, and Springfield Central. The line was opened as far as Richlands in January 2011 and completed to Springfield Central in December 2013 (see below). Between Richlands and Springfield stations the new line is carried over a Motorway junction on a 815m long viaduct. Springfield Central station is on an elevated structure and next to a major shopping complex. Bays for numerous bus routes are placed below the railway platforms. Looking up to 30 years into the future, the branch is likely to be extended to form a loop off the Ipswich line.
5 January 2014
BRISBANE Work is to start in 2015 on the construction of a double deck tunnel 5.4 km long under the centre of the city. The upper deck will be for buses while emus will operate along a double track railway on the lower deck. The tunnel will start at Exhibition in the north and emerge at Park Road in the south where it will join the Gold Coast line. There will be intermediate stations at Roma Street (for the main line railway station), George Street, and Woolloongabba. Services are expected to start in 2021. A new fleet of more powerful emus will be required since there are steep gradients at both ends of the tunnel and Bombardier has been selected to supply 75 emus. The tunnel project is the only part of an earlier more extensive set of proposals to upgrade the suburban railway system. Public services on the new 9.5 km long Richlands – Springfield extension commenced on 2 December 2013.
WELLINGTON The Regional Council decided on 21 November 2013 to close the little used Kaiwharawhara station, the first out from Wellington on the route towards the Hutt Valley. Corrosion had been discovered in an access bridge leading to the station and for safety reasons the station had been out of use since June 2013. It was considered uneconomic to rebuild the bridge since the area was very well served by twelve bus routes that pass the entrance to the station.
CHRISTCHURCH The reopening of the tourist city centre tramway finally happened on 15 November 2013.