By DAMIEN NOVAK
Sydney’s T2 Inner West & Leppington Line, T4 Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line, and T8 Airport & South Line will benefit from hundreds of extra train services each week, under a $1 billion NSW Government plan to increase peak hour capacity by up to 80 per cent.
The government is setting aside the money in today’s half-yearly budget, to boost Sydney’s existing rail capacity ahead of the opening of the Metro City & Southwest Line in 2024. The project involves converting and connecting parts of the T1 North Shore Line and the T3 Bankstown Line to form a new, 30 kilometre rapid transit metro line between Chatswood and Bankstown.
The $1 billion plan will take existing services from the soon-to-be converted Bankstown Line and move them to the T2, T4 and T8 lines.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that morning peak services will increase by 80 per cent at Domestic, International, Mascot and Green Square stations on the T8 Line, while passenger capacity on the T2 Line will increase by 4800 per day, with a train expected every three minutes.
Services will also increase by 30 per cent, with space for 6000 more customers, on the T4 Line. Non-peak services between Wollongong and Sydney will jump from hourly to half-hourly.
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the government wanted to “future proof” the railway network ahead of an expected resurgence in public transport usage.
“Moving Bankstown Line services to the new standalone metro system removes an existing bottleneck and frees up capacity to deliver more services on other lines where it’s needed,” he said.
“One billion dollars in funding ensures we’re future-proofing the existing rail network to keep pace with demand.”
For much of 2020, passenger numbers across the network were below 50 per cent of pre-Covid levels, however there has been a recent resurgence, as the Covid-19 situation continues to improve.
It has now been 38 days since the last recorded community transmission of Covid-19 in NSW, and the national Covid-19 vaccination program, which commenced on Monday, is expected to further bolster community confidence.
“The vaccine is going to change things and people are going to get their confidence back,” Constance said.
“It’s going to be a major step forward in returning to a more normal way of life, and that is going to have an impact on our public transport patronage.
“We’re already seeing numbers on the rise, and they will return to pre-pandemic levels,” he said.