Blue Mountains line Modifications
The long-awaited report on widening the Blue Mountains railway line for the new Intercity fleet is now available.
A summary of the key features:
- extension of platforms at Katoomba Station and Lithgow Station
- modifications to station platform edges (also known as platform coping) re-positioning of rail tracks (track slewing) along the length of the rail corridor modification of the existing platform canopy at Faulconbridge Station survey and geotechnical investigations
- signalling works to accommodate the new track position and platform modifications adjustment of the overhead wiring system and supporting structures as required.
- Subject to approval, construction is expected to commence in early 2018 and take approximately two years to complete.
You can download and read the official report - Review of Environmental Factors (REF) (201 pages)
Here are some excerpts ...
New Intercity Fleet Program
The introduction of the New Intercity Fleet will allow for the replacement of the existing intercity trains which are experiencing a number of adverse operational impacts including:
- declining reliability – higher average peak period breakdown rates in comparison to the rest of the fleet
- lower availability – as a result of the declining reliability, the existing intercity fleet are experiencing increases in failures requiring repair and increased routine maintenance levels. This results in a decreased availability of trains on the network
- higher maintenance costs – they require maintenance every 15, 45 and 90 days whereas newer fleet would generally require maintenance every 90 days
- lower customer amenity – older trains do not include the modern amenities that would be provided by the New Intercity Fleet.
Modifications to existing platforms at Katoomba Station and Lithgow Station
Platform extensions would be undertaken at the eastern end of Katoomba Station and western end of Lithgow Station in areas where the platforms have been recently modified. This would allow the opposite ends of the platforms to retain their heritage character. In addition, the impact has been minimised by extending the platform only by the length necessary to allow customers to access the New Intercity Fleet.
The platform extension works at Katoomba Station includes the installation of a brick retaining wall into which concrete would be infilled. The concrete cast in-situ would form the platform deck with coping tiles being laid over the top and treated with tactiles and painted as necessary. The new brickwork would be laid in a stretcher bond (refers to the orientation of the brick) in similar colour to the existing platform face. The new mortar would be struck with a flush profile.
The proposed extension of Platform 1 would result in a minor alteration to the visual appearance of Katoomba Station when viewed from the eastern end, Goldsmith Place and possibly certain vantage points from the Hotel Gearin. The visual impacts have been limited by selecting a brick facing to cover the concrete mass of the platform extension. The brickwork would be in a colour similar to the adjacent heritage brickwork and it is anticipated that with time the two phases of construction would only be visible upon close inspection.
The platform extension works at the western end of Lithgow Station would involve ground excavation to install a suitable sub-grade for the new concrete platform. To accommodate the platform extension, the removal of the existing platform-to-rail corridor pedestrian ramp is required. This pedestrian ramp consists of original 1920s brickwork as well as later brick courses and would be entirely removed during works.
While the removal of this brickwork would result in an irreversible impact, the majority of the platform brickwork would not be impacted as the majority of the brick retaining wall would be preserved. These works would result in a minor impact to the heritage significance of Lithgow Station.
Service relocations required for the platform extension would be undertaken outside of the heritage fabric areas so no impact is expected.
The removal of the existing barrier fencing at the western end of the island platform would involve removing metal fence posts from the asphalt surface of the platform-to-rail corridor pedestrian ramp. These works would not impact brick fabric in these locations. The re- installation of the fencing would be affixed to the surface of the new concrete and asphalt platform extension area and would not impact heritage fabric.
To enable the passage of the New Intercity Fleet through stations and maintain a safe gap, modifications to the coping (the edge of the platform) are necessary. These works include the removal of material from the face of the coping in sections and the addition of concrete in others.
All stations within the Project site would be subject to coping modifications ranging from a cutting back of up to 25 centimetres to an addition of up to 1.7 centimetres.
Where coping removal is proposed, the coping would be shaved or cutback with a diamond saw. Where it is necessary to extend the coping, concrete would be applied using hand tools. It may be necessary to install temporary formwork and pour concrete into sections where greater additions are required.
Based on an assessment of the required clearances to accommodate the newer wider trains, the canopy on Platform 1 at Faulconbridge Station would need to be reduced by around 11 centimetres. Modifications to the canopy would occur along the section attached to the station building, thereby minimising impacts to the elements of the canopy that contribute to its heritage significance. As the main heritage features would remain unchanged, minimal impacts to the heritage significance of the station are anticipated as a result of the canopy modifications.
Minor to negligible impacts are expected along the length of the rail line including at stations and crossovers as a result of track slewing. The works would largely be unnoticeable, particularly between stations, and it is considered likely that the tracks have been slewed or sections replaced during previous modifications and routine track maintenance activities.
Electrical and signalling modifications
Electrical and signalling modifications are anticipated at Hazelbrook, Woodford, Lawson, Bell and Eskbank stations.