Item 10.2 - Attachment 1

Parramatta City Council's Submission

 

Parramatta City Councilís Submission

North West Rail Link Project Overview (July 2011)

 

 

This is Parramatta City Councilís submission on NSW Governmentís NWRL Project Overview document.Council has the following comments under the chapter headings used in the Project Overview document:

 

 

1.†††††††† Introduction

There are concerns that the project is being assessed from a solution rather than problem perspective, as the main objective of the project is to provide a rail link from the North West to the North Shore and Sydney CBD.There needs to be detailed travel demand analysis from the North West to the whole of Sydney to fully understand the lack travel options from the North West.

 

2.†††††††† What and why

The strategic context makes no reference to the Sydney Metropolitan Plan.While this plan was inherited by the State Government from its predecessor, the Plan is still current and holds value.The plan estimates that half the population of Sydney will live in Western Sydney by 2036.This is likely to be achieved much sooner as the State Government supports a 70/30 split in favour of green field development compared to 50/50 under the previous State Government.

 

To address this population growth the Plan sets out Sydney as a compact and connected city with jobs closer to home by locating them in regional cities, such as Parramatta, which is identified as the second CBD.This model improves productivity by reducing the commute length for individuals and the level of infrastructure needed to match travel demand.This in turn shapes the future Sydney and itís social, environmental and economic impact.

 

Travel Demand and the Economic Case

The map of potential rail users is mis-leading.It purports to show potential rail users from the North West to the global arc.Yet it shows origins well away from the North West including Mount Druitt, Blacktown, Toongabbie and Westmead.The destinations are equally well beyond the global arc including Rhodes, Strathfield, Frenchs Forest, Manly, Liverpool and Bankstown.

 

The full picture of travel demand to and from the North West needs to be shown.The 2006 Journey to Work data (ABS) for the Hills LGA needs to form part of the context.This data which is not referred to or used in this document, shows that 58% of residents work in Western Sydney, 29% within the Hills, 8.3% in Parramatta Inner and 7.3% in Sydney Inner.The map of potential rail users clearly does not reflect this travel demand.

 

The objective of the project is to improve public transport connectivity to the global arc of employment without reference to other significant areas of existing and future employment in Western Sydney and these need to be considered.

 

An economic analysis of the NWRL is needed to determine the impact including productivity gains for Sydney.This analysis should include the cost of additional rail infrastructure (second harbour crossing etc) that is required to fully deliver the benefit of the investment in the NWRL.

 

There appears to be no evidence to support the claims of economic productivity gains for Australia or Sydney.

 

The M2 upgrade will improve car travel from the North West to the Global Economic Corridor, especially Macquarie Park and will significantly impact on potential of patronage on the NWRL.This needs to be considered as when the M5 East tunnel opened it severely reduced rail patronage on the East Hills Line.

 

 

Bus services

The existing bus services from the North West to Sydney CBD ďdrop offĒ in the off-peak period because the demand drops off.The travel demand is essentially from commuters.The map of potential rail users underlines that most travel demand from the North West to the North Shore and Sydney CBD is from commuters with very few trip destinations in the North West.

 

It is agreed that the NWRL will reduce bus congestion in Sydney CBD as bus services from the North West will be withdrawn.Will the bus service on the North-West Transit-Way be reduced to encourage passengers to use the NWRL between Rouse Hill and Norwest?

 

Local bus and car travel in the North West will increase as they are needed to provide a connection to the NWRL stations.The resulting traffic impact needs to be assessed.

 

 

Parking

The commuter car parks that are to be provided on the NWRL are highly likely to be full during the working day.Holsworthy station, which has nearly 1,200 parking spaces is reportedly frequently full during the day which impacts on the surrounding residential streets.The lack of available car parking spaces at NWRL stations after the morning peak is likely to impact on the surrounding residential streets and use of the NWRL during the off-peak.

 

The Norwest and Macquarie Park business parks offer large amounts of free car parking and this represents a significant challenge to achieve the objective of switching car travel to rail.The assumption of mode switch needs to be robust due to the ample free parking provided and ease of travel via the M2.This is all likely to continue to make the car more attractive than public transport use.The land use planning controls around the NWRL stations needs to be amended.In particular the parking rate for commercial uses needs to be reduced to support rail line patronage.If an excessive supply of parking is provided ahead of the NWRL it will reduce the future potential patronage of the line.

 

 

Train timetables and operations

The statement that there will be direct rail access to the North Shore and Sydney CBD from the North West needs clarification.Previous Department of Transport work indicated that only 2 out of 4 NWRL trains per hour will travel directly to Sydney CBD with the rest terminating at Chatswood.This is due to a lack of spare capacity on the North Shore Line and is only achievable with a reduction in North Shore train services.

 

The impact on the North Shore services also needs to be assessed.Reducing the service on the North Shore line will increase overcrowding and will be further compounded by additional passengers interchanging from the NWRL at Chatswood to the North Shore service.

 

The full cost and time of delivering the Chatswood-St Leonards amplification, second harbour crossing and Wynyard to Central/Redfern amplification needs to be considered as it is essential in realising the full benefit of the investment in the NWRL.

 

 

Route alternatives

The discussion of the analysis of an alternative alignment for the NWRL via Parramatta is mis-leading.It is unclear where the 121,000 workers in the North West live as the 2006 Journey to work data (ABS) shows that only 83,666 workers live in the Hills LGA. Where do the additional 37,000 workers live?It is unclear which travel zones are included in the North West figures quoted but the NWRL predominate serves the Hills LGA.The North West Growth Area may be in North West Sydney but it is predominately served by the Richmond Branch of the Western Line which passes through the centre of this Growth Area.

 

The NWRL data states that 4% (4,840) of the North Westís workers work in Parramatta.This is incorrect as the 2006 Journey to Work data shows 6,938 workers living in the Hills LGA work in Parramatta Inner.

 

The NWRL data also states that 20% (24,200) of the North Westís workers work in the global arc (Macquarie Park to Sydney CBD).But the 2006 Journey to Work data shows that only 6,133 Hills residents work in Sydney Inner and 17,701 work in the global arc (Macquarie Park to Sydney CBD).Where do the additional workers live?

 

The NWRL via Epping ignores the impact of induced overcrowding on the North Shore line due to the introduction of the NWRL.

 

There is no public evidence of any travel demand analysis undertaken which has been used to inform the decision on the preferred NWRL route alignment or any patronage estimates.

 

 

3.†††††††† Looking back

This section reviews previous work on the NWRL and does not consider that the planning of Sydney has changed since the line was first announced in 1998.The NWRL will perpetuate low density residential on the urban fringe with long transport connections to Sydney CBD (an estimated hour from Rouse Hill to Wynyard) at the expense of local connections to regional centres.There is no reference to the Metropolitan Plan.

 

 

4.†††††††† Looking forward

There is no early indication of the cost benefit value of the scheme or construction time.

 

What is the additional cost of extra tunnelling of NWRL to directly connect to Epping compared to north of Cheltenham as originally proposed?

 

There is no comment on the impact on the future Parramatta Epping Rail Link which is proposed to also connect to the CityRail network at Epping.

 

There is no comment on the suggestion of a future rail link between Castle Hill and Parramatta.

 

 

5. Maps & Diagrams

 

General comments

The aerial photographs and mapping of the station sites clearly show a lack of existing development, of sufficient density and type, to support a high capacity urban rail line.

 

There appears to be significant limited short to medium term opportunities to increase density of land use around the NWRL stations in particular Cherrybook, Castle Hill, Hills Centre and Norwest.The surrounding land use at most station sites is already mostly developed with low density residential housing which is unlikely to change for decades.

 

The land value around stations will increase once the line is opened but these small residential lots will make it cost prohibitive to allow redevelopment to occur for several decades even with changes to planning controls.

 

The land use around the station sites needs to be medium to high density zoning to increase the cost-benefit of the rail line investment.The choice of at-grade car parking is supported as it allows these sites to be easily replaced in the near future for higher density uses to support the NWRL however this may prove difficult to achieve considering the number of car commuters that will be displaced.

 

There needs to be careful consideration of the traffic impact including the hours of car park operation upon the surrounding residential areas.

 

The station catchments shown are overly simplistic as they do not take consider the actual distance from the stations.The actual catchment will be less than shown and this needs to be correctly considered in patronage estimates.Many of the existing street layouts lack pedestrian footpaths and direct pedestrian connections between residential streets making pedestrian access unattractive.This will need to be considered in the patronage prediction calculations unless the pedestrian network within the walking catchment is improved as part of the scheme.

 

The bus feeder network to serve the surrounding low density residential areas needs to match the level of rail service; therefore 4 buses per hour will be required initially. The bus frequency will need to increase inline with the future increases in rail frequency.There needs to be careful consideration of whether there can be sufficient penetration of existing residential areas and the impact on local residents as many of the streets were not designed for high frequency bus feeder routes.

 

Access to the Kellyville T-way park & ride needs to be re-configured as part of the NWRL as it currently suffers low patronage due to the restrictive left-in left-out vehicle access from Old Windsor Road.

 

 

Epping

The train service from Epping to Sydney CBD will significantly increase and along with it, the commuter car parking problem on the surrounding residential streets in Epping.What measures are proposed, as part of the NWRL to manage the predicted increase in commuter parking in Epping?As most of this commuter car traffic originates north of Epping it is suggested that additional commuter car parking be provided on the Northern Line between Cheltenham and Normanhurst.Additional commuter parking in Epping will simply worsen the existing high levels of traffic congestion in and through Epping.

 

 

Conclusions

The Project Overview document provides a broad outline of the proposed North West Rail Line.

 

There is significant further work required before the proceeding to planning approval.It is unclear as to the extent of what investigative work is already underway as there is little information in the public domain.

 

There is a need to:

††† Identify and quantify the need for the NWRL based on existing and future travel demand from the North West to metropolitan Sydney and hence preferred alignment and patronage.

††† Quantify the cost-benefit of the scheme including the economic impact and productivity gains.

††† Consider the impact on the CityRail network in particular North Shore services and the need (cost and timing) for rail line capacity improvements between Chatswood and Central.

††† Consider the impact on the surrounding residential areas from increased bus and car traffic to the NWRL stations.

††† Consider how to amend the planning controls around the NWRL stations to allow increased densities with a reduction in parking rates to support rail patronage.