The NSW government has announced that rail services between Epping and Chatswood - the Macquarie line, which opened in 2009 - will be run as a shuttle service for four months and then closed for seven months for "upgrade" to carry the driverless single-deck trains which will run on the north-west rail link after it opens in about 2019. Learn more ...
This disruptive closure is not necessary. It could be averted by retaining the existing double-deck trains on the Macquarie line and using the lower-level Epping platforms as an interchange. This might be by converting one of the two platforms to single-deck and retaining the other for double-deck use. Another, more expensive, solution would be building two new underground platforms at Epping to be a terminus for North-west Rail Link (NWRL) trains. There would be other possibilities.
Even after the Macquarie line re-opens as single-deck, passengers will be required to change at Chatswood. The station at Chatswood was not designed as a major interchange. There is likely to be uncomfortable and possibly dangerous overcrowding in the morning peak.
The gaps between stations are extraordinarily long - at least 6km Chatswood to North Ryde and Epping to Cherrybrook. Power failure or anything worse in the tunnels could force passengers to traipse 3km to the nearest station. And there won't be any train crew on hand to organise the evacuation.
The trouble began with a decision to bore NWRL tunnels slightly too narrow to admit existing double-deck Sydney trains. It continued with awkward attempts to expand railways where single-deck trains could feasibly be sent and not where the need was greatest.
Learn more about the north-west rail link's many problems. Or watch this video, to judge for yourself.
For a 2015 pre-election snapshot of local opinion, see this video.