No Problem with New Train Line

Now, I’m not normally one to defend Victoria’s rail network – a network that is bursting at the seams, and utterly frustrating for us regular commuters – but the following article shows that the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has absolutely zero foresight when it comes to the Regional Rail Link (RRL) as part of the Victorian Transport Plan.

To me, they just do not seem to understand the flow on effects.

Mr Westcott said Geelong passengers wanting to transfer to the City Loop would be forced to change trains at Footscray, from where they would only be able to use Sydenham line trains to gain access to the loop, because Werribee trains travelling though Footscray only ran direct to Flinders St.

“The Sydenham line is the most overcrowded in Melbourne, so forcing Geelong passengers to squeeze on to these already packed trains in peak hour is a recipe for chaos,” Mr Westcott said.

As a backgrounder, the current situation is that regional trains from Geelong, Ballarat, and Bendigo share rail lines with metropolitan trains on the Werribee, Williamstown, and Sydenham lines. Any hold up with a regional train effects the metropolitan trains (and of course, vice versa). The RRL is designed to provide a dedicated track for the regional trains to run on, taking them away from the metropolitan lines. This has the effect of allowing more trains to run on both regional and metropolitan lines – as they would no longer need to compete for track access.

Paul Westcott says that with no access to North Melbourne station for RRL, passengers wishing to transfer to the metropolitan network to use the City Loop – (which they would previously have accessed from North Melbourne) – would be forced “to squeeze on to these already packed trains in peak hour” at Footscray.

Mr Westcott, the trains are packed at North Melbourne anyway! While I do not currently need to use the City Loop, in the past I have often had to wait for three or four completely full services to pass by at North Melbourne, before a train with space available arrived.

Further, Footscray is the PREVIOUS station, so at that point, they should be LESS crowded, and given the RRL will free up track access for metropolitan services, there will be more metropolitan trains which they can board at Footscray, which reduces crowding even more. Passengers would also have the option to travel all the way to Southern Cross and switch to a City Loop service there – since Southern Cross is actually part of the City Loop!

As for North Melbourne station, exactly where would Mr Westcott propose more platforms be built? There’s not exactly any room to build even two more platforms to serve the RRL. In a perfect world, you would build new platforms at North Melbourne and at Footscray. This is not a perfect world.

Changing onto more (and less crowded) City Loop trains at Footscray is actually a definite plus. Travelling all the way to Southern Cross and catching the City Loop from there – (remembering the train wouldn’t be stopping at North Melbourne) – would be negligibly different. Given the regional trains won’t be affected by delays in the metropolitan network, travelling times should be more reliable, and absolutely more predictable.

Now, if we can just stop all these new regional trains from breaking down, we’ll be cooking with gas!