Farewell 14.5s

State Transit’s Scania L113TRB Ansair Orana fleet is now in the final stage of its retirement, with just 3 buses left in service and a planned final withdrawal in early December. These buses, affectionately referred to as the ‘long bus” and “14.5s” have been driving around Sydney for over 26 years, but alas, all good things must come to an end.

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Sydney’s Transport History – The Worlds Steepest Railway

Many people are surprised to hear the steepest railway in the work is right here in New South Wales. Located at Scenic World in Katoomba, the “Scenic Railway” isn’t your standard everyday train line.

The short and steep line forms one of many attractions at Scenic World in Katoomba, which also includes the worlds steepest cable car. Guests can access the line for a fee, with services every 10 minutes between 9am and 5pm.

The line was originally bulit as a freight line to haul coal and oil shale from mines on the floor of the Jamieson Valley up to the escarpment above back in 1878. From 1928, the miners began supplementing their income by operating services for passengers on weekends. This service continued until the closure of the mine in 1945.

Since then the line has operated as a tourist attraction, with multiple major refurbishments of the line being conducted. The original steam winch train used for passenger services back in 1928 was named Jessie carried 12 passengers. Jessie was replaced by the Mountain Devil, a 23 passenger electric winch trains in 1935. By 1952 these trains had been replaced by newer 28 passenger trains. Newer, larger trains were again introduced in 1974 and 1994. Most recently all the tracks and the rolling stock were replaced in early 2013. This saw the number of carriages increased to four, carrying 84 passengers.

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The railway in operation today

The line is what is known as an Incline Cable Railway, which means that the trains on the line are hauled by a cable. The line has an incline of 52° or 122% on its steepest section, which is the steepest incline on any railway in the world. In the 310 metres the line travels, it loses 205 metres in elevation whilst travelling at 4m/s.

Sydney’s Transport History – The Development of the Tramways

Sydney was once home to one of the largest tramway network in the world. Back at the hight of the operation, over 400 million journeys were made each year over 291km of track. Today we take a look back at the development of the Sydney Tramways.

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Circular Quay at the height of the tramways in 1923

The first tramway opened in Sydney in 1861. It was a horse drawn line between the Old Sydney Railway Station in Redfern and Circular Quay along Pitt Street. It was short lived and closed in 1866 after complaints about the damage the tracks caused to wagons and a fatal accident.

In 1879 the tramways returned, this time with a steam tram line between Redfern Station and Hunter Street in the Northern CBD. The success of this line quickly lead to many lines being developed throughout inner Sydney. Initially throughout the 1880s and 90s, the lines were built as steam lines.

From 1898 the network began to be electrified, with most of the System converted by 1910. Lines from Circular Quay to the Eastern and Inner Western suburbs throughout the life of the network. Many well known lines included the one to Bondi, which reached the Beach in 1894. The lines to Coogee and La Perouse line, which opening in Stages from 1880, being the first Suburban tram line in Sydney and containing what may have been the first tram balloon loop in the world. The lines reached Coogee in 1883 and La Perouse in 1902.  The line to Ryde was the longest line in the network, at nearly 20km long.

From 1886 lines operated on the North Shore from Millions Point, until the Sydney Harbour Bridge opened in 1932, when most services were redirected to Wynyard and connected with the mains system south of the harbour. Lines from Manly began in 1903, and operated along the Northern Beaches seperate from the main system. Also isolated from the main system were the Southern suburbs lines, operating as rail feeder services for the Illawarra line.

The Tramway network reached its fullest extent in 1923, with over 291km of track. At the time nearly 1600 cars were in service at any one time. The network was the second largest in the Commonwealth of Nations, after London and the largest in Australia.

This article just scratches the surface in the development. For information on a specific line, let us know and we will give you information. image.pngimage.pngimage.pngimage.png

Sydney’s Transport History – The First Government Bus

The continuous 85 years that the State government has run bus services wasn’t actually the first time that Government had run bus services. Back in 1905, the Government Railway Commissioners began a motor omnibus service.

The Government Motor Omnibus Act, 1905, allowed the Railway Commissioner the power to construct, purchase or lease motor omnibuses and operate them on routes as approved by the governor. Orders were placed for four steam buses for Clarkson Ltd, of Chelmsford, England and were bodied by Angus & Son in Newtown. This practise of importing Chassis and locally building bodies continues with the government bus services today.

The first two buses, 18 passenger single deck 1M and 2M inaugurated government bus services in Sydney on 4 December 1905. They operated between Potts Point and Taylor Square on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst, a distance of just under 2 kilometres. One bus would operate the service whilst the other would act as a standby in case of a breakdown. High costs coupled with low revenue saw the service ceased by 7 April 1906.

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Bus 1M that operated the first government bus service in Sydney between Potts Point and Darlinghurst on 4 December 1905

On 23 April 1906,  double deckers 3M and 4M began their short lived life operating a 2.5 kilometre route between Dulwich Hill and Enmore. These busses were even more short lived than the original route, dealings service on 29 May 1906 due to the unsuitability of the chassis to the type of work.

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Bus 4M, one of two original double decker buses used between Dulwich Hill and Enmore in April and May 1906.

After racking up losses of more than £6600 over just six months of operation, the buses were scraped at Randwick Workshops. This left the Railway commissioner to focus on Tramway and Railway operation and the bus network to a myriad of private operator for the next 26 years.

Sydney’s Transport History – Double Decker Trains

Sydney has a long history with double deckers trains.  In this edition of Sydney’s Transport History, we will be delving deeper into their domination of Sydney’s suburban rail rolling stock.

In the 1960s, the tenders were called for the first double decker passenger rolling stock. Between 1964 and 1968, 120 double deck trailer carriages were delivered to the NSW Government Railways from Tulloch Limited. They were incorporated into sets with single deck power cars. Tulloch delivered a number of double decker motor cars in 1968. When coupled with the double decker trailer carriages they formed the worlds first fully double decker Electric Multiple Unit trains.

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One of the original carriages from Tulloch

In 1970, the first intercity Double Deck V-set trains entered service. At the time, these trains were described as the “most luxurious commuter stock in the world”. Delivered over 19 years, most of the newer sets are still in service.

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Intercity set V3 at Katoomba

 

In 1972, the first Comeng-constructed stainless steel double deck suburban power-cars entered service. These cars were originally paired with Tulloch trailer cars , but from 1973, Comeng Trailer cars entered service. Later in the 1970s,  A Goninan & Co constructed a number of similar cars. Whilst most of these 1970s sets have since been retired, 24 of them still operate as S sets on the T2, T3, T6 and T8 lines.

Goninan built the first air conditioned suburban trains in 1981, with 160 K sets being delivered through 1985. In 1986, similar C sets with more modern safety features were introduced.

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Three Tangaras in the the foreground, with a K set in the background at Penrith

Between 1988 and 1996, 530 “Tangara” cars were introduced. These trains marked the first major redesign for the suburban rolling stock since double decker trains were introduced were and were also the last publicly funded new train design in NSW. These new trains allowed for the fill retirement of single deck suburban services in 1993.

Millenium Trains were introduced in 2002 and have formed the basis of all new trains delivered since. These were the first passenger trains in NSW to include automated announcements and information displays. These M sets allowed for the retirement of the original Tulloch carriages.

55 four carriage OSCar sets were delivered between 2006 and 2012 that allowed the oldest V sets to be retired and some services to be increased form four to eight cars in length. The H sets allowed for the next generation features found on M sets to be available on longer Intercity services.

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OSCar set H39 and Waratah set A36 at Central Station

Waratah trains are the latest design of double decker trains to be deliver to the NSW government railways and the first model to be built outside of Australia. These Chinese built trains continue on the design of the Millennium with some m minor improvements. The original order included 78 8-Car A sets. From 2018, 24 8-Car B set trains will be introduced to replace the remaining 24 S-Set trains.

Sydney’s Transport History – Electrification

This time in Sydney’s Transport History we are taking a deeper look into the electrification of Sydney’s Railways.

Sydney’s Railways use an overhead electrification system at 1,500 volts direct current. The system is considered to be inferior than modern single phase alternating current equipment. This has caused problems with newer trains such as the M and A sets.

As part of Bradfield’s Railway Scheme built in the 1920s and 1930s, there were plans to electrify Sydney’s Suburban railways. These plans were designed to allow for safe running of the propsed City Circle loop that could not have steam trains using it.

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The Remains of Royal National Park Station, the far southern extent of the original electrocution in 1926

 

The first railway in Sydney to be electrified was the Illawarra Line between Central and Loftus in the Royal National Park. The first service operated from Central to Oatley on 9 December 1926. Less than two weeks later, the first new build electric line, a new city underground from Central to St James opened on 20 December 1926, with services from the electrified Illawarra line using it.

Soon after, a number of other lines were electrified including the Bankstown Line in 1926, North Shore Line in 1927, Western Line to Parramatta and Northern Line to Hornsby in 1929 as well as the Carlingford Line to Rosehill in 1936.

Some other new build electric railways were also complete around this time with the East Hills line completed in 1931 and the Sydney Harbour Bridge lines and underground lines connecting it to Central in 1932 and later the Cronulla line branching off the Illawarra line in the late 1930s.

After Bradfield retired, it wasn’t until the 1950s that  further railways got electrified. A new station at Circular Quay complete the City Circle line which for the first time operated an underground electric loop through the Sydney CBD. Electric trains reached outside of Sydney to Lithgow via Penrith by 1957 and as far north as Gosford by 1960.

Additional suburban electrification reached Campbelltown in 1968, Riverstone in 1975, Waterfall in 1980, Macarthur in 1985 and Richmond in 1991.

On the Intercity Network, electrification reached Wyong in 1982 and later Newcastle in 1984. Trains to Port Kembla were electrified in 1985, whilst trains further south to Dapto weren’t electrified until 1996 and Kiama later still in 2002.

New build electric railways have slowly built across Sydney, with the Eastern Suburbs line to Bondi Junction opening in 1979, the East Hills to Glenfield link opening in 1987, the Olympic Park line in 1998, Airport Link in 2000, Epping Chatswood Rail Line in 2009 and the South West Rail Link in 2015.

Today all of the Suburban Sydney Trains network and a majority of the Intercity NSWTrains is electrified, with all new railways being built to electric standards. Despite this, there is still a long way to go, with thousands of kilometres of Intercity and Regional railways still reliant on diesel trains. There have been various proposals recently to extend electrification further south to Moss Vale and Nowra, west to Bathurst and North to Maitland. Whether these proposals go ahead is yet to be seen.

Farewell Region 6 – The Network

Region 6, currently operated by State Transit and soon to be handed over to Transit Systems Australia covers a large area making up much of the Inner West and Inner South of Sydney.

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Region 6 STA operating area shown in light blue

The first government run Inner West bus route was Route 59 from Concord to City York Street which began operation on 27 January 1933. Throughout 1933 dozens of other routes began operation including Route 65 from Central Railway to Ashbury and Route 88 from Central to Enfield. The first government run tram replacement service also began in 1933, between Hurlstone Park and Summer Hill.

Department of Road Transport & Tramways purchased the Metropolitan Omnibus Transport Company that same year, taking over their routes and their Burwood depot. This allowed for a massive expansion of government bus services.

Throughout the following two decades, the government opened three more depots at Leichhardt, Kingsgrove and Tempe. These allowed for further expansion of the bus network. Most of the earlier routes were concentrated on tram feeder services around Ashfield, Canterbury and Strathfield. High capacity double decker buses were also introduced on popular routes.

One of the biggest network expansions was in the 1950s. The previously extensive Inner West tram network was decommissioned and replaced entirely with bus services. These tram replacement services still make up the majority of services today.

In 1987, Metroline 400 began operating in the region allowing for the first time, cross-regional bus connections without requiring passengers to travel into the city and back out again. Since then many new cross regional routes such as the 348, 370, 492 and 530 have been introduced.

In 1996, the reach of STA in the Inner west was expanded south to Hurstville and Kogarah and later in 2000 expanded west to Parramatta and Olympic Park. The most recent complete overhaul of Inner West bus services occurred back in 2010, as part of the process of creating the bus contract regions.

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Today there are over 225 bus routes comprised of around 60 public bus routes and 165 school bus routes. Some high profile routes in the region today include the Route 370 from Coogee to Leichhardt, Route 400 from Bondi Junction to Burwood, Route 438 from Abbotsford to City Martin Place, Route 461 from Burwood to City Domain and Route M10 from Leichhardt to Maroubra.

From July 1st, these services will no longer be operated by government owned STA ending 85 years of government bus services in the Inner West.

Dodgy Dealings – The non-Inner West bus routes to be privatised

Despite Constance assurances from the State government that only Region 6 Inner West Bus routes are being sold off to Transit Systems and that all other current STA routes will remain in government hands, it now seems that isn’t the case.

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The STA network is very complex and contains some routes which stretch across 2 or more regions. This has meant that some trade offs have had to be made when it comes to delegating routes in the privatisation, with some routes crossing into Region 6 retained by STA and some routes with portions outside of Region 6 being handed over to TSA.

What we are now seeing is the proposed privatisation of routes that either barely scrape the edge of Region 6 and are predominantly based in other regions or in some cases don’t actually operate in Region 6 at all. These decisions come despite constant assurances from Transport Minister Andrew Constance that only Region 6 Inner West bus routes are being sold off.

It is understood by Transport NSW Blog that Transit Systems played a large role in choosing which bus routes they would and wouldn’t operate, in some cases cherry picking more desirable routes, perhaps better suited to STA operation. We also understand that STA was given very limited say in this process, despite the fact that numerous routes in their operating regions are being given away to TSA.

There is some debate over what actually constitutes Region 6 and whether or not the routes have been fairly divided based on the offical drawn boundary maps published by Transport for NSW. For example the eastern boundary of Region 6 on offical maps is from Botany Bay, the Alexandria Canal, Huntley Street, Sydney Park Road, Illawarra Rail line to Central. Theoretically, this puts many routes planned for TSA operation solely in STA operating regions.

There are other instances in which the operation of a route would likely be more efficient in STA hands. If the purpose of privatisation is to make more efficient cheaper services, moving depots further away from termini seems counter intuitive. In one example, the closest STA depot to a routes western terminus (located on the Bordet of Region 6) is 5km away at Ryde, whilst TSA will have a depot 5km away in Leichhardt, this probably doesn’t cause efficiency problems. The bigger issue is when you look at distances from the eastern terminus. The nearest STA depot in Randwick is 3km away, whilst the nearest TSA depot will be in Tempe, some 12km away. In this case it is clear the only consideration has been the routes western terminus being in Region 6 as the route would likely have been much more efficient in STA hands.

The following routes either with only portions inside or entirely outside Region 6 that will be handed over to Transit Systems are;

305, 308, 348, 389, 418, 440, 530, M10, M20, M30, M41 and M50.

With some of these routes, their placement in Region 6 is understandable. Most of these routes are long cross regionals with both large stretches in and out of region 6, making it difficult to classify a route as more Region 6 or more other STA region. It is incorrect however to characterise the privatisation of STA services as limited to the Inner West region 6, as many of these routes operate in Regions 7 and 9.

In particular, I have taken issue with a few routes that I believe would be better off served by STA rather than Transit Systems. The reasons for this are listed next to the route;

  • 305 Railway Square to Stamford Plaza Mascot; Route 305 operates predominantly within STA Region 9 with arguably no part in Region 6. Its operation would be more efficient from Region 9 depots.
  • 308 City Australia Square to Marrickville Metro; Route 308 is arguably a Region 9 route, being mostly located just within the western edge of Region 9. Operation could potentially be more efficient from Region 9 depots.
  • 389 Bondi Junction to Maritime Museum via Five Way; Route 389 operates predominantly within STA Region 9. Its operation would be more efficient from Region 9 depots.
  • M20 Gore Hill to Botany via Zetland; Route M20 operates predominantly within STA Regions 7 and 9, with arguably no part in Region 6. Its operation would be more efficient from Region 7 and 9 depots.
  • M50 Coogee to Drummoyne via Central – Route M50 is interesting, whilst part of the route is technically spilt between Region 6 and STA Region 9, like many other of the Metrobus routes, I believe its operation would still be more efficient from Region 7 and 9 depots. The example above was referring to this route.

In some cases the line between whether a route is better off in Region 6 with TSA or with STA is very fuzzy. In some cases, it is likely that the right decision has been made, but I’m not convinced on the merits of every decision made. Questions need to asked about this process. Are Botany, Mascot and Zetland really the inner west? Should one out of many duplicating routes have been privatised whilst other aren’t? How much power were TSA really given in this decision? Were the STA consulted enough about the changes?

 

Sydney’s Transport History – Bradfield

Here at Transport NSW Blog we are starting a new 10 parts series, Sydney’s Transport History. we will be looking at biggest moments in NSW transport history, from the first railways through the wars and onto the Olympics. Look out for instalments on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month through October. Today we are starting with Bradfield.

Dr. John Jacob Crew Bradfield CMG is perhaps the most famous civil engineer in NSW transport history. He is best known for his design of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Bradfield Railway Scheme.

Bradfield was appointed Chief Engineer for Metropolitan Railway Construction in 1912. He devised a grand scheme that involved electrification of suburban railways, an underground CBD subway and a railway bridge over Sydney Harbour. World War One put a temporary halt to these plans in 1915.

In 1922, a bill to allow for the construction of a Sydney Harbour Bridge was passed by Parliament. The building of the bridge coincided with the construction of Bradfield proposed underground subways, now known as the City Circle Line. The bridge was designed with four traffic lanes in the middle and four train tracks, two on each side. These railway tracks were linked into the Wynyard Station of the subway. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened on 19 March 1932. The road over the bridge was named the Bradfield Highway, after Bradfield.

The eastern tracks on the bridge were designed for the never completed Northern Beaches line, however they were used for Trams until 1958 when they were replaced with extra traffic lanes. The western tracks are used for the North Shore line, which previously terminated at Milsons Point in North Sydney.

The City Circle Subway line began construction in 1923, initially with two stub lines. A stub line to St James via Museum station opened in 1926. A line through Town Hall and Wynyard stations to connect to the new Sydney Harbour Bridge Lines was completed at the same time as the bridge in 1932. The City Circle loop was finally complete in 1955 with the opening of Circular Quay station.

Many sections of the proposed railways were never constructed. Some small sections of the uncompleted railways, such as extra platforms at Central and Wynyard and underground tunnel at St James were built. The proposed Eastern Suburbs railway was later built in 1979, but along a different alignment.

Bradfield electrification proposal proceeded, but much slower than envisaged by Bradfield and was not complete until the 1990s. Bradfield retied in July 1933 but continued on as a consultant for the City Circle construction.

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A map of the Bradfield Railway Scheme
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Part of the constructed Bradfield Railway Scheme with the Bradfield designed Sydney Harbour Bridge

 

Farewell Region 6 – The Buses

A massive part of any bus operation is the buses. Region 6 is home to 582 buses across its four depots.

From m/o 3426, a Scania L113TRB with Ansair Orana bodywork delivered in March 1993 to 2912ST, a Scania K310UB with Volgren “Optimus” bodywork delivered in April, the fleet is varied with a great diversity of buses. With Mercedes-Benz, Scania and Volvo chassis buses bodied by Ansair, Bustech, Custom Coaches and Volgren, the buses range from 12m to 15m in length alongside 18m long bendy buses.

So as part of our farewell to STA operation in Region 6, we have compiled a gallery of some pictures of buses from R6 in operation. All photos are from our personal collections except where noted.

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m/o 3426 – Currently the oldest buses in the Region 6 fleet – Photo by Dean Jones
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2833ST – The final bus to be transferred out of region 6 to another STA region
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2112ST – The sole fully low floor bendy bus and one of the last bus to be transferred from another STA region to region 6 – Photo by Leon Sharpe

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