Whoops. Once again TfNSW/NSW government buys off the shelf.
Of course Australian standards should apply but can be ignored or can they?
Another multi million $ cost blow out.
Major backflip on emergency exits for Sydney Metro rail tunnels
By Matt O'Sullivan
January 25, 2023 — 6.12pm
Emergency exits will be built closer together in rail tunnels for two multibillion-dollar metro lines in Sydney after NSW’s fire and rescue agency warned of serious safety risks to emergency workers if they were half a kilometre apart.
In a major about-turn, the agency responsible for the new rail lines, Sydney Metro, will now build cross-passages about 240 metres apart in tunnels on the Metro West and Western Sydney Airport lines.
One of the twin tunnels on the Metro City and Southwest rail line.
One of the twin tunnels on the Metro City and Southwest rail line.Credit:Brook Mitchell
The decision on Wednesday – which also follows an outcry from the firefighters’ union – is likely to mean more than 60 extra cross-passages will need to be built at a cost of about $100 million. The passages will connect twin rail tunnels on the lines and be used for evacuations of passengers and by firefighters and other first responders in emergencies.
Cross-passages on Sydney’s first two metro lines – Metro Northwest https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/weekends-are-a-lot-busier-sydney-s-first-metro-line-bucks-covid-trend-20221130-p5c2l8.html, and Metro City and Southwest https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/how-sydney-s-metro-rail-builders-navigated-underground-obstacles-beneath-the-city-20221208-p5c4u7.html – are about 240 metres apart, which is the Australian standard.
Sydney Metro had wanted to space cross-passages 500 metres apart in tunnels for the $27 billion Metro West line https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/warning-that-sydney-s-biggest-rail-project-risks-costing-27bn-and-opening-late-20210201-p56ye6.html from the Sydney CBD to Parramatta, as well as those for the $11 billion line https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/secret-documents-cast-doubt-over-cost-of-sydney-s-new-airport-rail-line-20220729-p5b5o5.html to the new Western Sydney Airport. The agency had argued that assessments showed “negligible difference in safety outcomes between cross-passage spacing” of 240 metres compared with 500 metres.
A raft of internal documents released under freedom-of-information laws show Fire and Rescue NSW had raised serious concerns about the safety implications for firefighters and the public about greater distances between cross-passages on multiple occasions over the last two years.
A cross-passage on the Metro City and Southwest line, which runs under Sydney harbour and the CBD.
A cross-passage on the Metro City and Southwest line, which runs under Sydney harbour and the CBD.Credit:Sydney Metro
The agency warned Sydney Metro in January last year that greater distances between cross-passages in the tunnels would introduce “unacceptable health and safety risks to firefighters and other emergency responders”.
“It is our assessment that FRNSW and other emergency services in NSW do not currently and will not foreseeably have the capability or the capacity in outer suburban Sydney to provide safe intervention in [Sydney Metro] tunnels where the cross-passage spacing is greater than 240 metres,” it said in correspondence.
Underscoring the extent of the dispute, Fire Rescue NSW said in the correspondence last year that it “does not agree with Sydney Metro that it is acceptable to create a subterranean environment where emergency services are unable to intervene in the event of an emergency however unlikely”.
However, Fire and Rescue NSW assistant commissioner Trent Curtin said it had reached agreement with Sydney Metro on Wednesday to implement the 240-metre Australian standard for cross-passage spacings.
“FRNSW will continue to work with Sydney Metro to ensure the safety design principles in the Australian standards are met,” he said.
A Sydney Metro spokeswoman said both agencies had agreed to cross-passage spacing of about 240 metres except in areas where such a distance was not possible due to ground conditions or water pressure.
“Continued collaboration between both agencies has led to an outcome that ensures the safety of emergency services personnel, commuters, railway staff and construction workers,” she said.
Victoria Cross metro train station at North Sydney.
Sydney Metro https://www.smh.com.au/topic/sydney-metro-1ml9
Beneath Sydney, one of the world’s largest metro rail projects
Fire Brigade Employees’ Union state secretary Leighton Drury welcomed the about-turn by Sydney Metro, saying tunnel cross-passages every 240 metres would now make them more suitable for emergency workers in an incident. “This is a significant victory for emergency services and the travelling public,” he said.
The union had been pressuring the government for weeks to compel Sydney Metro to build emergency exits 240 metres apart on the new rail lines.
A risk assessment by Sydney Metro two years ago calculated that 44 extra cross-passages will need to be built for Metro West if spacings are at 240 metre intervals, and an additional 23 for the new airport line. Each cross-passage was estimated at the time to cost about $1.5 million.