The Biggest Insult With The New V/Line Timetable

The other day I wrote about how once again travel times on the Geelong V/Line service had been increased with the preparation of a new timetable, which goes into effect later this month.

This is not the first time travel times have been increased under the auspices of a new timetable.

After writing my previous post, I’ve decided to actually look at what all these deliberate increases in travel time actually mean.

Along with travellers on the Ballarat, Bendigo, and Traralgon lines, Geelong customers endured lengthy full-line disruptions to their V/Line services, during the implementation of the Regional Fast Rail (RFR) project – (not to be confused with the current Regional Rail Link (RRL) project) – a project which ended up officially costing $750 million, though some estimates have it closer to $1 billion.

Specific to the Geelong line, the tracks between Corio and Werribee were replaced with higher class rails and sleepers, to allow the introduction of the 160km/h V’Locity trains on the line.

According to rail enthusiast site Vicsig, the line distance between these two locations is 32.247 kilometres – with Corio being 63.944 kilometres by track to Melbourne, and Werribee being 31.697 kilometres from the same location.

Given that the V’Locity trains can only travel at their full 160km/h speeds on this section of the line, they should be able to cover that distance in 12 minutes and 5 seconds.

Non-V’Locity services are predominantly hauled by V/Line’s fleet of N-class locomotives, with a maximum speed of 120km/h.

Over the same 32.247 kilometre distance, the N-class locomotive hauled services cover the journey in 16 minutes and 7 seconds.

In both cases, no intermediate stops at Lara and Little River are assumed.

So all the money spent to allow the V’Locity trains – (and in purchasing the trains themselves) – to run at 160km/h over a single section of the line only improved travel times – (potentially) – by around 4 minutes and 2 seconds. That already sounds expensive, right?

The newest timetable to take effect later in April has added two minutes to the travel time. An earlier timetable update added six minutes to the travel time.

So the four minutes improvement we paid for with a grain wagon full of cash, and many many days crammed in road coaches while the line was replaced, have been given back to us as an increase of at least eight minutes in timetabled travel time.

I say at least, because other timetable updates have also added minutes here and there across the timetable.

We endured that insult, for this result.

Nice, right?

Also remember that it is quite common that for operational reasons – (particularly with respect to how V/Line services interact with metropolitan services) – trains often are unable to travel at their full speeds anyway.

I have previously looked at how even the V’Locity services often don’t reach full speed when travelling towards Melbourne.

It is fortunate that the Regional Rail Link – (which although will slightly increase the distance Geelong line commuters have to cover) – will improve things, because the trains will be able to run at much higher speeds for much longer distances, and not get stuck behind metropolitan services once they get close to Melbourne.

That project is however, not expected to be fully complete until 2016 – so in the meantime, we should all sit and wonder no longer, why our journey times to Melbourne seem to be getting longer.

It’s because they are.