Item 10.5 - Attachment 1

Parramatta City Council’s Submission


1     Introduction

1.1  This submission responds to the High Speed Rail Study Phase 1 report.  Council made a submission to Federal Government on High Speed Rail in November 2010 and a delegation met Federal Government in June 2011 to discuss it.


1.2  This submission is focused on the station location and rail services within the Sydney metropolitan region.



2     Connecting Sydney to HSR stations

2.1  The concept for HSR (High Speed Rail) stations in Sydney is for two peripheral stations (one serving the north and one the south) and a central station.  The peripheral stations need to be assessed in combination with the short-listed central station locations as they work together to serve the Sydney Metropolitan region.  This is also dependent on the HSR service patterns as shown below:


·   A southern peripheral station will serve only Southern Sydney when HSR services travel to and from south of Sydney (e.g. Melbourne).

·   A northern peripheral station will serve only Northern Sydney when HSR services travel to and from north of Sydney (e.g. Brisbane).

·   A central Sydney station located in Sydney CBD will primarily serve the CBD and Eastern Sydney while a Parramatta station will better serve Western Sydney.


2.2  Sydney has a distinct urban shape with the city centre located extremely off-centre with only 6km to the eastern edge at Bondi and 50km to its western edge at Penrith.  Locating the HSR station in Sydney CBD would continue to disadvantage those working and living in Western Sydney where half the population will live by 2036.  By 2056 there will be more than 1 million more people in the Western Sydney compared to the Eastern Sydney.


2.3  The Sydney Metropolitan Plan has a vision for Sydney as a polycentric city to allow it to grow sustainably with jobs located closer to the growth areas in the North West and South West.  Parramatta is identified as the second CBD and locating a HSR station there will change the future shape and growth patterns of Sydney.


2.4  It is apparent that if only one central Sydney station is provided, then a fast frequent east-west rail service (Western FastRail/Metro) is required to allow HSR to serve both Western and Eastern Sydney (Figure 1).  A new fast east-west rail service is required regardless of where the central Sydney station is located.  Council supports one central Sydney station at Parramatta with a new fast east-west rail service.


2.5  The cost saving of routing HSR via Parramatta compared to Sydney CBD is estimated to be $4.3b.  This cost saving could significantly contribute to the cost of an east-west fast rail link (West Metro was estimated to cost $8b in 2009).  Without a second HSR central station or fast east-west rail link, Western Sydney will need to rely on the slow and overcrowded suburban rail services.



Figure 1 - One central Sydney station (Sydney CBD, Homebush or Parramatta) connected to Sydney with a fast east-west fast rail link (Western FastRail/Metro).



Figure 2 – The alternative to one central Sydney station and a fast east-west rail link is two stations Parramatta and Sydney CBD (or Homebush).


2.6  The alternative to providing a fast east-west rail link is a second HSR central Sydney station, one serving the east (and CBD) and the other the west (Figure 2).  To compensate for the additional costs of a second central station either one or both peripheral stations could be omitted.   Sydney CBD (or Homebush) could be connected to Parramatta with a spur line.  It is suggested that this spur is to the north of Parramatta so as to allow HSR services from the south (Melbourne) easy access to the Sydney CBD.  HSR services from the north would need to reverse after stopping at Parramatta to gain access to Sydney CBD.  This is a common rail operation and avoids the need for additional rail infrastructure.


2.7  There needs to be a detailed cost-benefit analysis carried out on these options to assess the best social, environmental and economic outcomes for Sydney and Australia.



3     Sydney central station options

3.1  There are two short-listed HSR stations for Sydney CBD, Eveleigh and Central.  Council has a preference for Central over Eveleigh as it is closer to Sydney CBD and has better onward transport options.


3.2  The Sydney CBD HSR station (Eveleigh or Central) will be a terminus station and it appears that the costs have not been correctly considered compared to the cost of a station at Parramatta.  The cost of a terminus station is significantly more expensive than a through station as a bigger station is required with extra platforms.  Therefore the cost of the Parramatta station (a through station) would  cost less than a Sydney CBD station (terminus) as it would require less infrastructure.


3.3  A possible location for a Parramatta HSR station is south (250m to 500m) of the existing rail and bus interchange, potentially within the Auto Alley precinct on Church Street.  The land south of the station mainly consists of large car yards which are likely to be redeveloped over the coming decades as the car dealerships change their business model to smaller sites.


3.4  It is not entirely clear from the Phase One study whether the central Sydney stations are above ground, subsurface or underground and whether the track into these stations are above ground, subsurface or underground and to what extent.  It is clear that the urban approaches to all central Sydney station locations will be underground.  The Phase Two study needs to clarify and cost this element.


3.5  The Phase Two study needs to clarify how the existing Intercity, CountryLink and Interstate services that currently use Central Station will be dealt with HSR in operation. In particular the services to the Blue Mountains, Central West and North West NSW which will need to continue to operate.  Some of these rail services could be relocated to Parramatta (or Homebush) if a HSR station were located there.  Obviously the existing north and south CountryLink services would be replaced by HSR. To some extent the Southern Highlands and Central Coast Intercity services would be replaced by HSR which would also release capacity on the Western Line and at Central Station.

4     HSR rail services

4.1  The study indicates that all HSR services will all terminate at Sydney.  This will significantly increase the journey time for regional passengers whose trip does not include Sydney as either an origin or destination e.g. a Newcastle to Canberra trip.  The HSR patronage suggests that 50% of trips would be regional and therefore the time taken to transit across Sydney will be crucial in patronage prediction and needs to be fully assessed.


4.2  The cross-Sydney transit times are significantly shorter via a Parramatta (or Homebush) HSR station which is a through station.   Through services could also be operated from a Sydney CBD HSR station however this would involve significant “backtracking” and hence increased station-to-station journey times.



5     Patronage

5.1  When the patronage for Sydney is quoted it is not clear what this consists of.  Is it travel from all Sydney travel zones or just the Sydney CBD travel zone?  Clear patronage forecasting for the short-listed Sydney central stations is needed.  Figure 3.17 is mis-leading at it appears to show that a Sydney CBD is the logical choice over Parramatta based on the travel zones shown.  However there is no indication as to the patronage for a Homebush station.  Also the travel zones for Sydney need to be further divided to provide a robust patronage prediction and allocated to the nearest HSR based on travel times and costs.   Sensitivity testing needs to be carried out on the travel zones at the edges as it is questionable as to whether all travel within say the Sydney CBD travel zone will use a Sydney CBD HSR station.


5.2  Clarification is needed as to how business trips have been considered in the patronage modelling.  One day business trips, similar to existing air travel trips will be from home to work and not work to work.   This may result in business trips being made from non-CBD stations depending on home location.


5.3  Figure 5.13 shows the long term orbital demand corridors for the Sydney metropolitan region.  It is not apparent as to where these are from as they are not from the Metropolitan Plan (2010 NSW State Government).  This plan shows the Global Economic Arc of knowledge based jobs from Parramatta-Macquarie Park-Sydney-Botany.




6     Staged Construction of HSR within Sydney and the relationship to Sydney Airport

6.1  The introduction of HSR services in stages (timing and construction) will play an important key role in how Sydney is served by HSR services and future shape of the metropolitan region.


6.2  If it is deemed that a Newcastle to Sydney HSR service is stage 1 then the patronage data favours a Sydney CBD location as the primary demand for this section appears to be commuters.  However it is important to consider if it is significantly more costly to provide an urban rail link to Sydney CBD compared than to Parramatta (or Homebush).  If Parramatta were chosen then a rail line spur to Sydney CBD could be provided at a later date as demand grows or alternatively a fast east-west rail link could be constructed to connect Western and Eastern Sydney (Sydney CBD).


6.3  An important factor in the first stage of HSR should be in providing relief to Sydney Airport which already operates at capacity.  Currently there are no plans for a second Sydney Airport with various sites proposed in the past.  A second airport within the Sydney basin is highly unlikely to be connected to the HSR network for similar reasons as to why HSR is not proposed to serve the existing Sydney Airport.


6.4  Connecting HSR to a second Sydney Airport outside the Sydney basin is more attractive because the distance is much greater.  Both Newcastle and Canberra Airports could act as an alternative airport to Sydney.  There is significantly more air travel between Sydney and Canberra than Sydney and Newcastle which is also a factor.  This first stage of HSR should also consider access to Canberra and or Newcastle airports to provide relief to Sydney airport.  A first stage could be Canberra-Sydney-Newcastle to provide benefits to commuters and relief to Sydney Airport.


6.5  The existing Sydney Airport poorly serves Western Sydney (except the south west sector which has good road and rail links) due to its location and lack of direct transport links.  If the central Sydney station is located within Sydney CBD then Western Sydney will continue to have poor access to fast travel options along the East Coast.  The social, environmental and economic impact of this should be carefully considered, especially when the population of Western Sydney will match Eastern Sydney by 2036 and have one million more by 2056.


6.6  The ultimate HSR network should consider the overall future demand and the ability of the HSR infrastructure to respond to this in stages as the population on the East Coast continues to grow.



7     Conclusions

7.1  The Phase One study has identified four possible locations for a central Sydney station and significantly more data and analyses is required to identified a preferred station including:

·   Whether there should be one central Sydney station with a fast east-west rail link or two central Sydney stations.

·   Analysis of through HSR services across Sydney to reduce transit times as 50% of all HSR trips as identified as regional.

·   The implications of through services and the cost of providing terminus stations in Sydney CBD compared to through stations at either Homebush or Parramatta.

·   Detail patronage forecasts based on smaller travel zones to better predicate the patronage for the four short-listed central stations.  This needs to be considered in conjunction with the predicated patronage forecasts for the two peripheral stations.

·   The impact on Western Sydney (the growth predictions) of not providing access to fast East Coast travel options by locating the central Sydney HSR in Sydney CBD where there is already good access to Sydney Airport.


7.2  Council supports a HSR station in Parramatta connected to Sydney with a fast east-west rail link.  Council offers Federal Government assist and support into further investigation of options that consider a HSR station at Parramatta.