MEDIA RELEASE / NEWSLETTER / NO. 2 / August '87 / ISSN 0155-8234
NEW TRAINS: A REAL IMPROVEMENT?
Goninan's at Newcastle have recently completed a mock-up of a carriage
from the TANGARA train, the first of which is due to come into service
next year. Several APT representatives inspected the mock-up and
report that, while some aspects of design eg. external appearance
are very striking, the design apparently does not consider passengers'
comfort and convenience on several points, including:
We hope the SRA will continue to seek the opinions of commuter
organisations and the GENERAL PUBLIC on the best possible design for
Tangara trains before they go into mass-production.
Meanwhile, plans for HPTs (High Performance Trains) for country e
services (not to he confused with the VFT ~ Very Fast Train ~ proposed
between Sydney and Melbourne, which will be reported on in a later
Newsletter) remain shrouded in doubt and mystery. Opposition
Transport spokesman Bruce Baird recently claimed that the Government
was preparing to cancel the whole project (SMH, 4/7/87) owing to
funding constraints imposed by the Federal Government, while the SRA
has come under criticism for its very limited plans for accommodation
to be included in the trains:
- Headroom is restricted particularly going up and down stairs.
- The large windows, extending partly onto the roof, will give
passengers excellent views but in Sydney's summer will mean extra
strain on the air~conditioning systems. Has the SRA considered (a)
the risk of air-conditioning breakdowns and (b) the extra energy
- The fabric-covered seats are an improvement, for softness and angle
of recline, on those fitted to the prototype air-conditioned
electronically-controlled sets now coming into service. However, they
will probably be unpopular for being non-reversible. Reversible seats
have been a tradition in Sydney's trains and while it is true that
most other systems in the world now have non-reversible seats, there
is no reason why the SRA should abandon a feature which commuters like
unless it is totally impractical to continue. Otherwise, l988 seats
will not match the comfort of l924 ones.
- First class SLEEPING CARS to be limited to only one each in a couple
of sets, and compartments to be without individual shower and toilet
facilities that have been taken for granted in Australia for the past
- No provision for ECONOMY SLEEPING ACCOMMODATION which could be a
vital selling-point for rail in the increasing competition against
road coach services. Alternative models are available such as the
European couchette, the American open section (both of which are
easily adaptable to day travel), two-berth compartments such as
provided on the Indian-Pacific and Trans-Australian, or the
three-berth ones provided in Queensland.
Now that the Department of Main Roads and NRMA have provided and
distributed a report promising (threatening?) us with a whole new
network of roads by the year 2000, the SRA is getting into the act.
They have asked the Commuter Council to provide "a submission
indicating what services and facilities commuters would like to see
provided in the year 2000". APT is preparing a submission and we
would like to have the suggestions of as many as possible of our
members. Send your comments to Box K606, Haymarket 2000 or direct to
the State Rail Authority, G.P.O. Box 29, Sydney 200l.
APT congratulates the new head of the NRMA, Mr John Lamble, on his
appointment. We hope that he will act to lobby for a transport system
which serves the needs of the whole community rather than ensure as a
Daily Telegraph editorial demanded that "motorists come first".
The State Rail Authority announced a record level of patronage for
any year since it was formed: 224.3 million passenger-journeys in
l986/7, an increase of 6 million on the previous year. (Higher
volumes were carried by the NSWGR, as it then was, in the postwar
decades.) This is a good result which reflects both the increasing
costs and congestion of road transport within Sydney, and the efforts
being made by the SRA to win passengers - a campaign which must be
continued by all railway employees.
The SKITUBE rack railway has now opened for part of its length, from
Thredbo to Perisher Valley. This privately-operated railway
represents one victory for sensible transport planning; it carries
skiers from accommodation and car-parking below the snowline avoiding
the disaster of increased road traffic in the environmentally-sensitive
The SRA's total ban on smoking on interurban trains and
long-distance road coaches, intended to be for a trial period of six
months, has been ended after only three months. It is now intended
that one in every four interurban carriages will be smoking, but APT
doubts the SRA's ability to maintain a permanent separation given the
constant remarshalling of trains. As for the trial ban on road
coaches (which now applies permanently on state-run services in the
rest of Australia and under`many`private operators), we are aware of
many instances where no effort at all was made to enforce it in
CENTRES POLICY AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT
The N.S.W. Department of Environment & Planning (DEP) has suffered a
defeat at the hands of the DMR and Mr Brereton for having dared to
reject the Harbour Tunnel because it is opposed to transport planning
principles. The DEP's good work is continuing, however, with the
Centres Policy now being circulated in draft form. This aims to
concentrate office and commercial development in two regional and 16
subregional centres throughout the Sydney Region. All but one
(Brookvale) are on the rail network. The benefits of concentration
apparent to APT include:
The DEP has ruled out major extensions to the rail network as part of
metropolitan development, saying "the demand isn't there" - which
overlooks the fact that high-quality rail access can attract enough
development to a centre to increase demand. Lack of interest by SRA
management in building extensions has probably influenced the DEP.
The new centre for the Rouse Hill release area, planned at Mungerie
Park in north-western Sydney, will have only road-based public
transport. Altogether, though, the Centres Policy is a commendable
plan to influence our transport development along rational lines. We
look forward to its implementation, which may be assisted by the
likely continuing restraint on road spending.
- Maximising the use of railways as a link between centres.
- Less road traffic - and hence costly roadworks - than would be
needed with dispersed employment and services.
- Clearly-defined centres for private bus operators to base their
- Better access for people without use of a car to a full range,of
shops, jobs and services.
Availability of clear, concise, correct information is essential for
any transport service to win and retain passengers: We have
frequently commented on the poor state of information available to
users of Sydney's public transport system. How do long-distance
By contrast, the Western European rail systems have summer and winter
timetables, each known well in advance including the dates effective
(of course all systems change over simultaneously, with the beginning
- Consistency. The SRA introduced new timetables on all lines
effective 3l May. We hope they will be accurate for some time, and
not superseded by ill-timed service changes like the additions made to
the North Coast service in l985 two weeks after the new timetable had
come into effect. No effort at all is made to co-ordinate timetable
changes between states.
Availability. The new SRA timetables are freely available at
present. They should remain in stock as long as the timetable is in
force, rather than the SRA lose potential passengers through
begrudging the printing of a few more.
- Completeness. No comprehensive timetable booklet is available at
present for services. There are brochures for three separate
"regions"; if you want to know how much a trip will cost, it is
necessary to consult a fourth one. The brochures include brief
summaries of interstate services, but other states' internal
timetables are unobtainable in Sydney from either railway stations or
state tourist bureaux.
Period of Validity. There is never any indication of when a
timetable will be superseded. Can you still trust that l985 one lying
in a drawer?
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