After a number of setbacks, the long awaited Epping to Chatswood Link opened today, with the first train departing Chatswood at 11:05am to Epping, and the first train to depart Epping for Chatswood did so at 11:16am. The line was ready to open Sunday 22nd, although the opening was pushed back a day out of respect to the victims of the Victorian Bushfires.
Until the introduction of the 2009 timetable later this year, which will see the new line integrated as part of the Northern and North Shore lines, a 15-minute shuttle service is being conducted by a pair of 4-car OSCAR type trains. This is both due to the steep grades on the line, and the noise issues experienced, which are due to be rectified in the first few weekend shutdowns for the line before it’s integration into the network as a whole.
Riding the train from Epping to Chatswood this afternoon was quite an experience. The combination of the new OSCAR trains with the new track makes for a very fast, smooth ride. Indeed, unless one looks out the window at the speed of the passing tunnel, it is hard to gauge exactly how fast the train is going. The ride is so smooth, with no bumps or jolts or vibrations through the train at all.
New stations are open at Macquarie University, Macquarie Park and North Ride (originally named Delhi Rd), and all stations fall under the “green travelpass” zone of ticketing.
Eventually trains will travel from Hornsby to Epping, then through the new link to Chatswood, before heading south to North Sydney, and back to Epping via Central and Strathfield. Currently, northern line trains will depart Hornsby and run to Epping and Strathfield before heading east to Central and moving back to Hornsby via The North Shore line. The new design will see an increase in services to Epping, and stations between Epping and Hornsby (which, under the current timetable, only get one train every thirty minutes in the off-peak). The new line will also provide Cityrail more flexibility during times of trackwork, and help passengers to avoid disruption in a number of scenarios.
It is in the authors opinion that, although the project has been delayed, it is worth the wait. The travel time between Epping and Chatswood now is amazing, and it provides a far easier connection for North Shore customers wishing to join Newcastle and Central Coast line trains.
Unfortunately, the author has not had a chance to get any photos of the new line in it’s current operation, although photos will be shared as soon as possible.