Monday, 15 February 2016

1969: Sydney's double decker test train

double deckers first appearance december 31 1968 daily telegraph 7

Source: Anonymous. 1968. "The Train Made to Hold 2096". The Daily Telegraph, December 31: 7. 

Sydney might not have the world's best rail network but visitors to Sydney do like it for its double decker trains. It is the only Australian city that has them in operation. Ever wondered when they began operation? It was on January 1 1969. Some might say 1964, when the Tulloch carriages were incorporated into trains carrying single level cars.

However this train in 1969 was entirely double deck (or bilevel). It did set the precedent for the modern fleets that would operate on the Sydney rail network through to this very day. The following year, the first of the famous V set double decker trains  began operation on interurban services. In 1972, the first mass order for double decker trains for suburban services was undertaken. These trains are what as known as the 'S' Sets, and would carry up to 1600 people, about 25 % below what they thinking a few years earlier.

These trains are still part of the Sydney Trains fleet, mostly used as surplus trains for major event services, though there are a few timetabled services where the trains still run. Updated versions (the C & K sets) came into service during the 1980's. One notable feature is that they were airconditioned trains. In 1988, the Tangara came into operation.

Since the turn of the Millennium, there have been two major rollouts - Millennium Trains (2002) and the Waratah Trains (2011). The Waratah trains were bought in to replace the remaining S set trains. The final eight car set in the Waratah fleet was delivered in 2014. The double deckers would see the demise of the single deck trains on metropolitan services with the "red rattlers" phased out by 1993.

However single deck trains will return in 2019 when the North West Rail Link opens between Chatswood and Rouse Hill. Some people question the decision, because the single deck trains will lack the capacity that double deckers have. It tells us one thing - Sydneysiders take their double decker trains for granted. It is a way of life.