The 13km Epping to Chatswood Rail Link (ECRL) is an underground passenger rail service in the northern suburbs of Sydney, Australia.
It connects the underground stations of Macquarie University, Macquarie Park and North Ryde. The project was developed by RailCorp which provides metropolitan passenger rail services through its subsidiary CityRail.
A Thiess and Hochtief joint venture undertook the design and construction of the underground tunnels. The construction contractor for the project was the Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation.
The project construction began in November 2002 and was completed by December 2008. The line became operational in February 2009.
Upon completion, the ECRL accommodated an additional 12,000 passengers a day with trains running every 15 minutes.
The project was originally part of the Parramatta to Chatswood rail line which, in 2003, was divided into two portions, one of them being the Epping to Chatswood line.
The ECRL project was taken up with the hope of creating major business opportunities and benefits to the residents of the North Ryde, Central Coast, North Shore and Western Sydney.
The project included construction of two underground tunnels each having one track. The 12.5km-long and 7m diameter tunnels took two years for excavation. The excavation process was undertaken with the help of 210m-long tunnel boring machines weighing more than 1,000t.
The construction also involved building 26,400m of rail track, 3,300t of rail and 25,000m of elevated walkway. The cost of the project was A$2.35bn.
The first phase of the Epping to Chatswood rail link was opened in February 2009 with a shuttle service. In this phase, trains operated on both track directions from Epping to Chatswood on weekdays and weekends. The trains stopped at Macquarie University, Macquarie Park and North Ryde. The line was operated free of charge until June 2009.
The newest trains that ran on the route were OSCARS (outer suburban cars) which were used as the shuttle service. The OSCARS were used mainly because of the noise and steepness of the tunnel. The trains were operated at 15 minute intervals.
The OSCARS H set trains were constructed by United Group Rail. K sets were also introduced on the line during the shuttle phase and they too proved successful.
The ECRL was integrated with the Northern line in the second half of 2009. Both K sets and a pair of four-car OSCAR type trains are used during off-peak periods.
During the weekdays, four trains run between Hornsby and Epping to Chatswood Line every hour.
Signalling / communication
Thiess and Hochtief provided rail systems such as signalling, communications, electrification, ventilation, fire safety services, walkways, noise mitigation and other services between Epping and Chatswood stations.
The signalling system on the Epping to Chatswood line has been integrated with the rest of the CityRail system after October 2009.
The Epping signal box was first installed in 1928 and was replaced by an NX panel in 1980. In 2008, the area control was transferred from Epping to Strathfield and then toHomebush Signal Box.
The New South Wales (NSW) government, in February 2010, reannounced the North West Rail Link, which will connect with the Epping-Chatswood rail link at Epping.
In August 2010, the Australian Government announced $2.1bn of funding for the Epping to Parramatta Rail Link and the NSW government will contribute another $520m for the project.
The work on the Epping to Parramatta Rail Link is expected to start by 2011 and scheduled to be completed by 2017. As part of this rail link work, two new tunnels between Epping and Carlingford, and Parramatta and Camellia-Rosehill will be completed to connect the line to the existing network.