North and the West Melbourne deliberately neglected – yet again: Peak-hour rail crisis coming, Metro warns

Commuters during peak hour. Photo: Penny Stephens

TRAIN passengers in Melbourne’s north and west can expect chronic peak-hour congestion within two to three years after the government rejected a proposal to use two idle platforms at Southern Cross station.

The two platforms were built last year at a cost of $23.1 million but are expected to sit unused until trains are running on the regional rail link in 2016.

Metro and V/Line approached the Department of Transport last year with a proposal to share the two platforms, which are at the western end of Southern Cross Station.

Metro said it was approaching the limits of its ability to run more trains into the city to meet passenger growth from the northern and western suburbs.

It warned the department that without access to those platforms, commuters on the northern group lines – which include Werribee, Williamstown, Sunbury, Craigieburn and Upfield – faced increased overcrowding and a potential drop in reliability.

Those five lines were paralysed for six hours on Saturday after a track worker mistakenly cut a major communication cable near Southern Cross Station during regional rail link works. It is the second time in the past month that a cabling bungle during regional rail link works has shut down part of the network.

A briefing from the Department of Transport to Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder, obtained under freedom of information, reveals the department rejected the joint Metro and V/Line proposal as too costly.

Adam Carey, The Age, November 26, 2012

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