Despite a proposed $20 billion investment to upgrade and improve Sydney’s rail system, a government-commissioned analysis concedes many western Sydney commuters will be unable to board trains by 2021.
Documents obtained by Fairfax Media reveal five-year transport forecasts, estimating all seats on Western Line morning services in the direction of the CBD will be filled by Parramatta station. The analysis also projects Illawarra Line patrons, from as far south as Sutherland, will face similar congestion woes due to overcrowding.
Inner west services may also be full by the time they reach Newtown and Macdonaldtown.
Transport for NSW’s Sydney’s Rail Future 2021 Demand Assessment, secured using Freedom of Information laws, says “interchange” movements will increase pressure on city stations.
The number of passengers forced to change trains in order to reach their destination is anticipated to increase by around 80% by 2021, from about 60,000 in 2011 to 107,000.
The analysis details the government’s plans to expand the $8.3 billion North West Rail Link through the city, constructing a new harbour crossing, at a cost of more than $10 billion, which would connect to the Bankstown Line at Sydenham. The report shows the Bankstown Line to have the highest volume of available capacity.
Further to these plans, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian says more than $1 billion will be allocated to fund a “western Sydney rail upgrade”. She says these improvements, in addition to the new harbour crossing, will help to alleviate pressure on the line and produce 60% more capacity for the entire network.
However, passenger numbers on the Western Line are expected to be the fastest growing on the entire network, rising 4.5% each year until 2021. The line is already Sydney’s worst in terms of punctuality, operating at 92.2% in 2014, below the overall average of 94.7%.
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