It’s worth considering constructing an in-fill station at Alexandria before building the new Commbank offices on top.
This is why:
The Illawarra Line runs directly underneath that site in a shallow tunnel – looking at the area, it seems it was built cut and cover – therefore it’s not far underground. There is also ample clear space at this time to build a station around the functioning rail line before it’s connected to my imagined new in-fill station.
The Illawarra Line – along with the Eastern Suburbs line it turns into at Central – is arguably the most suited rail line in Sydney to metro conversion. Or, given this line’s segregation from the rest of the Sydney Trains network, it is already able to run at high frequencies. In peak periods, trains already run at 3-4 minute periods. This is the closest Sydney gets to metro-level train service.
Redfern station still lacks a western concourse – so the station is not easily accessible from ATP and northern Alexandria, although it is not too far distant.
Situating a train station at the end of Mitchell Rd would give this area access to a high capacity, high frequency train service.
Commbank is in the process of constructing a very large campus style office building above the train line tunnel. It will house thousands of largely back office workers from across Sydney, many moved from its existing building at Olympic Park. In fact, one can surmise that transport was probably an issue behind Commbank’s decision to move a big chunk of their workforce from Olympic Park to ATP, which is within the periphery of Sydney CBD (or ‘downtown’ in North American parlance).
Transport is crucial. Although Redfern is only an 850m walk (half a mile), it’s uphill, there’s an element of risk at night, and the station access paths are, well, local and haphazard. In fact, it’s possible to access Redfern starion’s eastern most platform, but then you have to walk along it, walk up a flight of steps to the concourse, and across to the platform you need – the eastern most track pair is used only in the morning and evening peaks for trains running to outer SW Sydney.
So my point is: transport is important, as is its ease of access and prominence within local wayfinding. Redfern station is poorly connected. Having a station right underneath this building, servicing the local area and the rest of the Australian Technology Park, seems like a good opportunity for an in-fill station. Also, I think this train line is highly suited to metro-fication, however it may be implemented. Metro service is about high frequency ‘turn up and go’ service, and fairly frequent stops to connect areas to each other. In this case you could see a logical Sydenham-St Peters-Erko-Alexandria-Redfern string of stops. For people familiar with Sydney, that’s a decent string of places with logical connections as you move along. They are poorly connected by local transport at the moment.
It would be cheaper to build a decent and well connected western concourse at Redfern station. I consider the need for an in-fill station at Alexandria/ATP to be relatively low priority. However, it still seems to me to be a decent opportunity to sharply increase transport accessibility to an ill-served corner of inner Sydney which will very soon have thousands of more people working there – people who will also likely want to visit Commbank offices in the City too. Why not take the opportunity to, as I clumsily just said, sharply increase transport accessibility in this location. Seems like a winner to me.
Finally, I question why Transport for NSW doesn’t take a similarly strategic attitude towards transport planning in Sydney. My simple idea of an in-fill station maximises the amenity and usefulness of the existing train line. Perhaps it’s a problem of bureaucratic structure in state government – in Canberra, where I’ve just been on a uni field trip for three days, transport planning is logically included in their planning department, with the day to day running of public transport part of a dedicated transit agency. ATP could become a thriving ‘hub’ with such easy and immediate access to useful transport like that. Do your tax uplift thing to help fund the station construction.
Let me know what you think.
The site of the new Commbank office is circled in pink. The walking path is in blue. You can see a bunch of surface level carparks in the ATP precinct that might be better utilised as offices hosting industries rather than cars in this centrally located but poorly connected precinct. ATP has never really lived up to its promise. A direct train station connecting to other local areas, would most likely give this area a big boost. Separately, I have considered connecting the inner west line to this location, so if that were to happen, it would also have direct access to Newtown.