History of the Doncaster Train


This is an important question with significant implications for potential service users and providers. Factors include the route, destinations, interchanges, initial investment, running costs and revenue, speed and capacity. The different modes have significantly different strengths a weaknesses.

Advantages of trains (heavy rail) include its ability to go faster, and carry many more passengers into central locations with fewer drivers than bus or trams (light rail). They are also independent of the road network assuming no level crossings. The train’s disadvantage is the higher initial cost as trains are not suited to go up hills, so extensive tunnelling is required under Doncaster Hill, if that is the chosen route.

Perth-Mandurah Rail Line

Perth-Mandurah Rail Line

Alternate heavy rail routes include continuing along the Eastern Freeway to avoid tunneling, then following Eastlink with major park-and-ride stations along the route. An example is the new, cost-effective and popular railway along the Mitchell Freeway in Perth.

The new Perth train lines have stations in the middle of the freeway, with elevated cross-overs for buses, pedestrians and large adjacent car parks. It is a land-use and transport model appropriate for the East-Link. The train would depend on a significant feeder-bus network.

The Clifton Hill Group is one line that does have capacity for more trains to join the system, especially with the new Merri Creek bridge and controversial city loop reversal in the mornings proposed for later this year. The Clifton Hill line may reach capacity some time in future. Then it would be difficult to add additional tracks between Victoria Park and Jollimont.

An alternative option may be for some trains to continue west, possibly in a tunnel, to the University of Melbourne. The Clifton Hill to Melbourne Uni route would also suit buses and trams, and reduce traffic demand and congestion on Alexandra Parade and Princes Street.

Light rail and bus is cheaper to build than heavy rail, but shares road space with other modes. Without priority over cars (often proposed but rarely delivered) it suffers from the same congestion related efects (unreliable, slow, polluting). Tram priority is often proposed but rarely delivered.

Perth-Mandurah Rail Line & freeway over the Swan River, Perth

Perth-Mandurah Rail Line & freeway over the Swan River, Perth

The former Premier, Sir Rupert Hamer said:

“Trams must have priority at Smith, Brunswick, Nicholson, and Lygon street intersections and that storage of traffic must be on the freeway itself, not Alexandra Parade” [The Melbourne Times, December 14 1977]

Yarra Trams submitted to Eddington a feasibility study for a light rail along the Doncaster corridor, joining the 86 tram route at Smith St and Alexandra Pde. The studys findings were not released. Alternatives would have the new tram join the 96 route at Nicholson St, or continue to Swanston Street or Royal Parade.

Buses are flexible. This is why they are least trusted by commuters. There have been buses along the freeway since it opened and it must be horrible being a driver on one of those buses.

Eddington Recommendation #6 for a new, state-of-the-art bus service for doncaster proposes a significant bus upgrade.

The costs of building and running it are not compared with other options. When asked if he was convinced buses, not trains were the solution, Sir Rod said there were more urgent rail projects in the west but don’t let anyone remove rail reservation down the Eastern freeway [Monash Transport Lecture, SLV 28 August 2008].

Buses suffer from road congestion at both the city and Manningham ends of the route. It may be hard to employ and train enough bus drivers to make a long-term dint on demand.

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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