In Transport

Victor P Taffa

As our population increases and ages the expansion of all heavy railway networks throughout Australia is essential in order to meet these growing pressures over the next few decades.

In a series of articles The Southern Thunderer investigates a number of issues that spells out why Governments of all persuasions must meet the challenges ahead and instead of deferring or abandoning railway expansion realise the positive impact that this will have on our economy and society as a whole.



The plans for expansion of our railways were included in the Detailed Overview Report as written by myself and distributed in the first instance in January 2001. On 26 February 2009 all of the plans became accessible via the internet. The website address is

The Detailed Overview Report will be used as a template for individual websites of Railway expansion that will be progressively launched for every State, Territory and a National focus.

Many of the plans for Sydney are simply a revival of routes laid out by John Bradfield during the 1920’s and there are routes that were drawn up during the 1910’s. The fifth article focuses on Train/Tram/Light Rail Coexistence.

Train/Tram/Light Rail Coexistence:

Unlike Metro Rail, Heavy Rail and Light Rail and Tramways will coexist throughout New South Wales. Until 1934 the movement of tramcars to the tramway system from the heavy railways occurred at West Ryde. From the Northern Line at West Ryde a single track tramline proceeded from the heavy railway tracks onto Ryedale Road along Victoria Road and Church Street where the line joined the tramway system at Blaxland Road.

This joint use of tracks also occurred at platforms 3 & 4 of Milsons Point railway station until 1958 where the heavy railway lines on the eastern side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge were used by the tramways.

As such the use of heavy railway lines can enable tramcars and light rail vehicles to join streets in suburbs, towns and cities throughout New South Wales.

This multi use of heavy railway lines will allow for the provision of a very frequent service for all communities particularly in regional and rural areas. Where the ‘tyranny of distance’ forces the permanent isolation of vast numbers of people this multipurpose approach to the use of railway lines will bring people together and in turn revive towns that are currently struggling.

Heavy rail, tramways and light rail operate on the same rail gauge and overhead wiring system.

Heavy railway lines operate on a higher voltage than for trams or light rail vehicles. The multiple uses of heavy railway lines will encourage the need to duplicate and quadruple railway lines which will allow for the separation of freight, express and slower passenger services.

Railway line construction does not remove the need to maintain or upgrade roads. However given the large expansion of residential areas over many decades without a railway line it is quite apparent that there is a bias against the construction of railway lines.

Governments at every level are looking at value for money when capital works budgets are allocated. The dual use of trains, trams or light rail on the same tracks for every State, Territory and a National focus will encourage Government to invest in railway expansion.

Trams or light rail can connect far flung regional towns and cities by providing a fast service along the same tracks as an electric train.

This will go a long way towards overcoming the ‘tyranny of distance’ that afflicts Australia.

The difference between the cost of construction of roads and railway lines is marginal.


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