Sydney Train Stations Need Two Exits

One of the things about the trains of Sydney is that, in contrast with the light rail and Metro stations I am used to, so many of the train stations have only one entrance or exit, and it is on one side of the train station (rather than the middle).

This is fine if that is the only direction you are going, but in many cases (maybe even half, maybe more in a poorly designed stations) someone is interested in going the other way. So for instance, let’s say you have an east-west line, and an entrance/exit at the east end of the station. Let’s say further you live or work west of the station, or you are on the west end of the train and need to transfer to another platform. You would wish there were another entrance and crossing.

Redfern-GoogleEarthShown in the figure is Redfern station, nearest to the University of Sydney. While there is an entrance to the southwest at Australia Technology Park, it takes you to Platform 9 and 3/4 10, which is seldom served, meaning you have to go all the way to the front of the station, (climb the stairs) find your platform (climb down), and position yourself in the desired car, which might be the other end of the platform depending on your destination. There is a lot of backtracking. While climbing the stairs up and down may not be avoidable, the backtracking is.

Backtracking is not mere inconvenience, it is a loss of time for want of staircase and overpass, and thus it is  a loss of ridership and a loss of fare revenue. It is also a loss of accessibility thus and a loss of land value.

Further, this is not a small amount of time. The length of a train set is about 163 m, the railway platform is about the same, maybe a bit longer (I estimated 180m before I looked up the length of a train).  It takes nearly two minutes walking at normal speed to go from one end of the platform to another, and a passenger may need to do that twice in the extreme case (though they may have to do that second one anyway making the long walk either before they board or after they exit, because of the location of exits at the arrival train station, it could very well be that the problem there is the mirror, with the exits at say the west side when the traveler’s final destination was to the east). (And likely the process occurs twice a day.) Four minutes walking at 1.5 m/s is 360m (nearly a quarter mile). Eight minutes walking is 720m.* And this is inside the station area, leaving aside access to the station.

Now, I recognize that platform configurations may not always permit insertion of staircases or lifts near the unserved end of the station platform due to space reasons, especially when the track curve as shown at Redfern. The platforms often narrow at the end, and may themselves be awkward retrofits. But that does not mean they never do. And some expense is justifiable to the train operator if the benefits in ridership or property uplift are sufficient and can be captured, and to society if they cannot.

I am not going to make a list of the Sydney train stations where this issue should be investigated, but somebody should, and some assessment of their feasibility and cost would be warranted.

At a minimum, a few stations can be retrofitted as a pilot project and the effects on ridership, land value, and investment monitored.


Update: A reader writes:

Yes interesting comment about Redfern.

Now in fact when I went to Sydney Uni there was a footbridge exactly where you suggest – I recall that it was a somewhat ricketty timber structure but very handy none the less

This reference says:

“In c1994 the southern footbridge was removed as the Eveleigh railway workshops were gradually closed down and the footbridge was no longer required” which seems to neglect the traffic that used to access the university.

I suspect that additionally there were costs associated with fare collection management etc – which today could be covered by Opal Card readers – which the Govt of the day wanted to avoid.

Wikipedia also sort of supports this saying:

“Until 1994, Redfern had an overhead footbridge at the Eveleigh end of the platforms, connecting platforms 1-10 by stairs. This was demolished because the funds for its maintenance were not available.[1]”

Interestingly your comment certainly could have also applied to one of the busiest stations on the network – Central Electric i.e. the suburban platformswhich lacked a southern concourse until about 15 -20 years ago. That concourse is linked to the Devonshire street tunnel and provided access for thousands of -……you guessed it ……………uni students going to UTS. And workers going to the Railway square precinct which also happens to house the offices of TfNSW!



Note: There is also a potential control issue, as this would lead to more than one entrance to the station, which might have security issues. A real criminal would be willing to leave the platform and traverse rail tracks if necessary, so I think this is largely spurious. It might however warrant extra staffing if people (police) are needed to monitor entrances and exits, as occurs at some stations. I suspect most of this can be dealt with using cameras.

* I know, walking is supposed to be healthy for you, but this isn’t about health, it is about convenience and time.