Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Carlingford Line - what to do with a line that goes and connects to nowhere....yet

The Carlingford line seems to be one of the many forgotten rail lines which have become a very old, outdated and somewhat disjointed and unconnected part of the Sydney Trains metropolitan network, yet the NSW Government nor Transport for NSW or the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian know what to do with it.

The poor Carlingford line in the only suburban rail line which in my own opinion, that is not connected via a fully accessible interchange at Clyde. Now before you start having a go at me, stating that Sydney Trains and Transport for NSW have classified the station as accessible, its really not.

Clyde is serviced by a stair walker which over the years has been more broken and out of service that more so actually in services. At one point that I am aware, there was a Union ban on using this critical piece of technology for wheelchair users, yet it is still there, but only available during certain hours (namely in the peak periods) for which after that time, Wheelchair users are required to either travel to Granville or Parramatta to travel towards Carlingford.

To me whilst the bus option is the much more safer than actually trying to attempt to use the stair walker at Clyde, it certainly goes a long way to prove the Carlingford line and Clyde for that matter is  certainly biding its time to closure.

So what should we do to fix the option?

This idea I have fought long and hard on, and have spoken to many both involved with sensitive talks with stakeholders (such as Parramatta City Council and the NSW State Government along with Transport for NSW) for the possibility of the Carlingford line to be converted to a light rail system, that will ultimately connect to Westmead hospital precincts (Such as the Adults, Kids & Private hospitals) to Macquarie University and maybe even onwards towards Lane Cove, to provide this suburbs with a more connected piece of critical public transport infrastructure than what they currently have.

Why not have single metro style trains on the Carlingford Line?

Lets be honest here, this idea which has been circulating thanks to a few MP's who seem hell bent against light rail, think the only option is to turn the line into a metro 3 car system, however the dilemma is that how would this link into the current Sydney Trains Metro network?

Can a metro style train service use the same piece of infrastructure as the current double deck network is offering? Hell no!!

A single deck 3 car metro style network would offer no greater benefits and ultimately lead to further segregation of the line and its commuters, leading to further frustrations for not only commuters but transport planers alike.

Why not convert the line into a rapid bus line?

This option again would only create further gridlock and would take a lot longer to actually plan and build. The cost of converting it to this type of system would also cost more as more would have to be done for the conversion. Buses are already clogging up areas within Westmead, Parramatta, Carlingford and Macquarie University precinct.

Why convert to light rail then?

This answer is actually quite simple, as it would take far less time to convert,  the current trams that the NSW Government is considering retiring from next year onwards would be used to gap fill until new rolling stock can be brought, Frequency of service could jump unto every 10-15 mins in the peak and in the off peak every half hour instead of the current hourly services provided by heavy rail (aka Sydney Trains).

It would also offer an opportunity to make Clyde wheelchair accessible whilst also plan for the network to expand to Westmead and Macquarie University precinct or Lane Cove and even continue further expansion of this network towards Bankstown in areas currently underserved by bus services which have been cut or frequency dropped from previous levels.

It would also offer a more accessible service for people with disabilities using wheelchair or walking frames, stick or crutches, the elderly or families with prams.

The majority of the light rail stops can be built either where the current existing Carlingford Line stations are or next to them with most actually at street level requiring no lifts or major ramp constructions.

To me this makes a more sensible plan and help builds growth for patronage and expansion as well as improve public transport connections not only for the community as a whole but a more accessible transport option for people with disabilities without having any major hassles or drama's which they currently face to this day.

But I would like to get your feedback or suggestions on converting the Carlingford Line to Light Rail? Do you think it is a sensible and though out process and idea to carry through with or would you consider another option or stay with the current incumbent form of transport. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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