The Age has obtained documents under freedom of information (FOI) that highlight real flaws in the Baillieu Government’s promise to buy 40 more trains and to give Melbourne “a world-class train network”.
The plan shows “major constraints” to reducing congestion, overcrowding and inefficiencies in current operational practices. It also forecasts “chronic” overcrowding on Melbourne’s busiest lines in the near future.
Unfortunately, this comes as no surprise and if the Baillieu Government continues its love affair with roads and the East West Tunnel/Tollroad Link there will literally be no money left for our rail network, including the Rowville Line, let alone bus or bicycle networks
There is clear, research evidence that the community wants effective and efficient public transport not roads Mr. Baillieu – it is time to honour your election promises.
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METRO’S ambitious five-year plan to provide Melbourne with a world-class train network has been revealed, but it relies on the Baillieu government honouring its 2010 election promise to purchase 40 new trains.
Documents released under freedom of information reveal Metro’s strategy to boost Melbourne’s train service by 2017. The plan spells out the major constraints to achieving this, including railway congestion, overcrowded trains and inefficient work practices. It forecasts chronic overcrowding on some of the city’s busiest lines if the changes are not made.
The plan is based on expected passenger growth and the Department of Transport’s long-term goals as contained in its 2010 Melbourne metro rail plan. Realising the plan would require a massive investment in public transport on the part of the state government and the federal government through Infrastructure Australia, its nation-building advisory body.
The plan also suggests Metro will struggle to meet its performance targets if its proposed changes are not made, raising the spectre of a network once more bedevilled by late and unreliable trains.
”By 2017, significant changes will be required to provide a railway that not only carries a higher number of customers but also exceeds the performance targets established within the franchise agreement,” the plan states. ”This cannot be achieved under a ‘business as usual’ approach.”
Key changes required include:
■ Doubling the duration of peak hour from one to two hours;
■ Upgrading signalling to push an extra 10 trains an hour through the northern loop, which services the Sydenham, Craigieburn and Upfield lines;
■ Recruiting and training more than 260 new train drivers;
■ Modifying ageing Comeng trains, that make up almost half of Metro’s fleet, to fit more passengers or phase them out;
■ Boosting electricity for powering trains in the city loop and on at least six suburban lines;
■ Duplicating remaining sections of single track on the Hurstbridge line between Clifton Hill and Eltham, and;
■ No longer using Flinders Street Station as a terminus for all lines, instead making it a ”whistle-stop” station at which trains stop for 40 seconds. It is the station where train drivers change over, leading to regular stops of several minutes.
Worsened overcrowding is predicted for the Dandenong, Sydenham and Werribee lines if the plan is not followed.
Metro was required to produce the five-year plan under its franchise agreement, although Public Transport Victoria (PTV) and the state government are not obligated to commit to any of the operator’s initiatives.
PTV chief executive Ian Dobbs said PTV was ”considering many options to increase capacity and reliability as patronage continues to grow in the years ahead” and Metro’s strategic plan was merely ”one input into this process”.
A spokesman for Transport Minister Terry Mulder said the government had already committed $225 million a year for rail maintenance.