History of the Doncaster Train

Those Doncaster Rail plans


Image: Down Memory Lane we go, Melways Edition 14, showing the proposed Doncaster train line from Victoria Park. The line eventually disappeared from later Melway editions.

For more on the history: Wikipedia, Doncaster railway line, Melbourne

The Doncaster railway line is a proposed suburban railway in the eastern suburbs of MelbourneVictoria, Australia. Connecting to the existing Melbourne metro railway network at Victoria Park station on the South Morang and Hurstbridge lines; the Doncaster line would have served the suburbs of BulleenTemplestowe and Doncaster; running both in the median strip of the Eastern Freeway and in a tunnel under houses. Initial works commenced in 1974 but the project was cancelled in 1976.

First proposed in 1890, detailed planning commenced in 1969, and by 1972 the route was decided upon. Despite rising costs, the state governments of the period continued to make assurances that the line would be built. Property acquisition for part of the route was completed in 1975, and construction of a cutting at the city end commenced in 1974, only to be filled in two years later.[1] By 1982 plans to build the line had been shelved by the state government, and by 1984 land for the line once it left the freeway had been sold.[1] In 1991 an independent report investigated constructing the line, recommending against it due to the high cost.[2]However several other reports released since the 1970s detail the essential requirement for heavy rail mass transit in the Doncaster corridor.

The Doncaster rail line proposal is almost identical to the earlier completed Joondalup Line and recently completed Mandurah Line, both in Perth, a city with less than half the population of Melbourne, which runs along the centre median of the Kwinana Freeway and through various tunnels. The Mandurah rail line, completed in 2007, is almost double the length of the proposed Doncaster line and cost 1.6 billion; trains are able to travel at up to 130 km/h. Despite the massive requirement, local council and public pressure, there remains no firm state government commitment to build the Doncaster line.

The rail line proposal resurfaced during the Northern Corridor Study. Its 2003 report found that mass transit to Doncaster, together with other initiatives consistent with the still new Melbourne 2030 plan, would make the road tunnel unnecessary.

The study reported:

“An east-west tunnel is the only real way to remove traffic from Royal Park, but it is difficult to justify the expense, even of a shorter tunnel, based on relief to this area alone. Relief to the rest of Alexandra Parade and Princes Street route is less assured (these are significant traffic reductions, but remaining traffic levels are still substantial). Induced traffic may refill the additional road capacity unless it is utilised for other purposes (eg. improving north-south priority, public transport, cycling and walking facilities) …”

Northern Central City Corridor (NCCC) Strategy, Draft (and Final) Report August 2003, Department of Infrastructure.

The NCCCS concluded that

no further investigation should take place on road tunnel options in the inner north.

A light rail or busway solution would run from a new underground bus/tram interchange at Doncaster Hill, in a dedicated right of way along Doncaster Road, then in the median of the Eastern Freeway from Doncaster Road to Alexandra Parade, requiring widening of the Freeway from Bulleen Road to Doncaster Road.

From there, it would run along Alexandra Parade (in a dedicated right of way, and probably taking a traffic lane in each direction) to Nicholson Street, where it would join tram route 96 into the City … another option would be to turn into Elgin Street and Swanston Street to serve Melbourne University more directly, then into the city along Swanston Street. High-speed vehicles would be used to provide competitive overall journey times compared with car travel (and also to travel along the freeway at noticeably higher speeds than cars).

A heavy rail solution would run underground from Doncaster Hill to the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen Road, following the freeway median from there to the Clifton Hill railway overpass. At this point it would turn south, leaving the median to join the Clifton Hill line north of Victoria Park station. Doncaster train services would then enter the city using the city loop (service patterns would need to be worked up in detail).

A hybrid solution would combine features of the heavy and light rail options, running from Doncaster Hill along Doncaster Road and into the Freeway reserve (as per the bus and light rail options), then joining the Clifton Hill line at Victoria Park to run into the CBD using the city loop. The hybrid solution would require specially-designed vehicles capable of running in an on-road situation

With all options, the primary objective would be to provide a competitive edge, with shorter overall journey times than car travel, and much-improved reliability, capacity and passenger amenity than the present bus services.

This means that DART will need to be fully segregated from road traffic throughout its length. An integral part of DART would be the redesign of bus services in the Doncaster corridor to improve their coverage and provide effective feeder services to and from the rapid transit system, including an effective bus/DART passenger interchange at Doncaster Hill. Before any commitment is made to DART, a full feasibility study is needed into the options available, the potential benefits and costs. In the meantime, any land needed for future options should be protected.

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8 thoughts on “History of the Doncaster Train”

  1. Dermot Coleman says:

    What is essential are separate solutions for commuters from commercial through traffic. While a tunnel is vital on a long-term basis for Melbourne’s commercial transport needs, it will do nothing to relieve the commuter congestion at Hoddle Street, and likewise a railway line would do nothing to help the cross city commercial traffic which is forced to use the freeway to nowhere. A major arterial which shrinks down to one lane going through Royal Park is scarcely a long term answer for a city whose existing cross city links are already clogged. The predominance of distribution centres and manufacturing industry in the eastern and western suburbs makes it inevitable that commercial cross city traffic flows will increase. A user pays tollway is obviously an equitable way of funding the necessary infrastructure, and it’s obvious that a railway to Doncaster is a pipedream .

    To minimise community disruption and protest the tunnel should run from Hoddle Street through Flemington Road without exit ramps thus eliminating the need for access roads or fly-overs in public land. The existing Hoddle St entrance and exit ramps would remain unchanged.

    To deal with the commuter issue for those wishing to reach the city, the obvious solution is to put a light rail/tram line along the western end of the Eastern Freeway from Bulleen Road, the line continuing on through the tunnel to Flemington Road with underground stops that would give access via escalators to the existing tram lines into the city; the No. 96 in Nicholson St, the No. 19 in Royal Parade and also the No. 55 service near the zoo.

    To work effectively obviously there needs to be vastly more parking provided which could be most readily achieved by constructing parking/commercial buildings at strategic points along the Eastern Freeway so that commuters would know that there is parking available which they could reach with minimal traffic delays before switching to the light rail/tram system into the city. A side benefit would be to exploit the wasted space beside the freeway.

  2. Sean Deany says:

    There are a number of reasons why the recently scrapping of Melbourne Metro and its replacement with a bluff for votes scheme called the Melbourne Rail Link stinks.

    With the use of geodetic mapping and a basic rail engineering knowledge I was able to extrapolate a highly probable alignment if it was genuinely to be ever built. If restricted primarily to streets – for cut and cover construction and taking into account the required minimal radii for the rail alignment I’ve pin pointed the best possible / and likely location for the sub-surface Montague Stn. Various leaks more recently have indeed put its location centered on the Montague Street and the 109 LRT route in South Melbourne.

    Alarmingly if this line is ever actually built and of course with the construction of the East West Road Link it may impact on any proposal for a Doncaster Rail Line and potential for it to be networked as a group with the proposed decoupling of the South Morang Line which would be rerouted via Flagstaff Gardens and Southern Cross Stn to the real Fisherman’s Bend Station to be located on Plummer Street. This is only the beginning of the problem as Southern Cross Station would become a major construction site once more to provision for the proposed sub-surface platform and it would be necessary for the Burnley Loop (pl 10) and the Caulfield Loop (pl 12) to be closed during the construction phase. Effectively all trains running via the City Loop from / to the Burnley and Caulfield Loop Lines – half of the entire Melbourne rail network would have to terminate at Flinders Street for the duration of construction of this new sub surface platform at Southern Cross Stn.

    This could all be avoided in any future scenario for a Doncaster Hill / South Morang to Fishermans Bend Line (partially proposed by PTV) where its dedicated alignment would run from new underground platforms immediately north of and parallel to Flagstaff Stn and through new tunneling to additional sub-surface platforms at Southern Cross – beneath Wurundjeri Way. With Melbourne Metro this line of course would potentially have interchange at Parkville Station and additionally provision for a possible Doncaster Line. Sadly there has been little planning and vision from PTV to best advise the state government when consider such highly probable scenarios for the longer term development for new lines.

    Therefore by scrapping Melbourne Metro and replacing it with a completely different scheme there are now arguments in place by government to abandon Doncaster Rail altogether. With this situation there are now better arguments in place by campaigners to fight for Doncaster Rail and Melbourne Metro.

  3. martin newell says:

    What is surprising is that the Liberal State Government members never use public transport to and from Doncaster,and they lack the ability to think outside the square.
    I implore them to travel on public transport from Melton station to Doncaster Shopping town.
    This trip is taken with the minimum of fuss at any time outside peak weekdays.
    The train is quicker from Melton to Spencer Street than driving the Freeway,especially if the train is a Melton Express.(a train that does not stop at the “ghost” stations of Rockbank Deer Park and Ardeer.)These stations are ghosts as no passengers use them and Vline call these Three EXTRA services.)
    Having picked a Melton Express train and arrive at Spencer St,a tram takes you to the City centre where you catch the Doncaster bus in Lonsdale Street.
    These are usually nearly empty during non peak times.
    The bus is sometimes held up by City Traffic,This problem is easily solved by making more bus only lanes.
    On time we arrive at Doncaster,relaxed.
    To help our State Government think outside the square,here are obvious low cost ideas.Instead of building a Toll road and charging Motor Addicted drivers $20 to use a tunnel when it is built, why not charge them $10 now for using the Eastern Freeway.and into the City.London does this and have been praised for doing it.Buses are now able to move faster than when the Congestion charge was introduced.
    If it works in super populated London .I am confident that it would work in Little old Melbourne.

  4. martin newell says:

    Sean, you are right,The PTV are locked in the dinosaur age.
    Their concept of a Hi speed train is a train that travels at 160kph and then stops for no passengers at Ardeer,Rockbank,and Deer Park.It then enters the new Regional Rail link Bridge at North Melbourne.
    This bridge was designed to save passengers time by passing the third busiest peak hour station on the Geelong and Ballarat line.Due to the derailment of the XPT train in July the “Hi speed trains are restricted to 24 kph passing North Melbourne.Great PTV.
    I would not trust the PTV to touch my model train set.
    It is obvious with the Ballarat Line that the PTV members never had toy train sets.
    If they did they would not delay trains by one hour,half and hour ,and fifteen as they did last week end.

  5. martin newell says:

    Dermot,Laverton is Melbournes commercial hub with easy high speed access to Sydney,Brisbane Adelaide and Darwin and Perth.
    The speed limit needs to be increased to 120 kph on all major interstate and regional routes for car and truck traffic.
    This can be done Today as most interstate trucks and cars easily cruise at 120kph.This would lower the accident rate as fatique is the major cause of fatalities on our roads.
    Coles and Woolies use the western freeway Greensbough freeway and all we need is a link from Ggeensbough to Eastern freeway.
    Please Dermot no more car spaces.The PTV need to provide schuttle services to main stations and bike paths for people under 65.

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