Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Transport Tueday

I am not sure when I first became interested in public and rail transport. It was probably with the advent of the internet. Public transport and rail transport are terribly important, from both a users point of view, an economic and environmental sense, and an historical manner in that it heavily influenced how 19th and 20th centuries cities were built around the world.

What surprised me most about Melbourne's train system was to learn how much of our suburban system is single track. A couple of relatively recent things have outraged me. Ok, it was back in the 20th century when the electric Gippsland line was converted to diesel. I understand that the government at the time did not want to spend money on new electric locomotives to replace old ones and the line was never electrified past Traralgon, so requiring diesel trains on to the Bairnsdale terminus. De-electrification seems to be a very strange thing to do for the sake of the cost of some new locomotives.

The other outrage was while it was renovated to run trains at a much higher speed, the train line to the regional city of Bendigo was reduced to single track for much of its journey.

Single train tracks may be fine in theory, where trains briefly pause at sidings to allow another train to pass, but they only work when everything runs like clockwork. What a step backwards and what a stupid idea.

So I really was surprised how much of our suburban trains system is single track. I can remember back to when there were short sections of single tram line at suburban termini too, but these have all been duplicated now.

There was a section near Clifton Hill that was single track, Clifton Hill being an inner area. I believe it has now been duplicated. The final sections of the Belgrave and Lilydale lines are single track, as is the last four kilometres of the Upfield line. The Hurstbridge line has a very long length of single track, from Heidelberg to the terminus. This makes the line very unreliable and a pain to use. The government has bitten the bullet licked the bullet with the tip of its tongue and announced funding for a mere 1.2 kilometres further, with still another 15 kilometres of single track in place.

And then there is the Altona Loop. A tweeter I follow, Misguided Jennie I think, often points out difficulty with this line. It is a single track diversion from the mainline to Werribee. Without going into great detail, some time trains run to Werribee via the Altona Loop and sometimes they they go directly along the mainline. At times it is only a back and forth shuttle service. It is not a great service. If you want to go to the main city station, Flinders Street, you have to catch three trains. In peak times, it is only a 22 minute service interval. Unfortunately as soon as something goes wrong, it seems the Altona Loop service is cancelled, and it becomes a 44 minute gap between trains. This is outrageous. Being a single track line makes things all the more difficult. Mind, it is a really nice train trip on the day time shuttle from Newport to Laverton. I have made the trip three times and every time I saw rabbits. Yes, they are a pest, but....

So a forty four minute service in peak time is obviously unacceptable, and the same happens on the Upfield line that has a 20 minute peak service. Most of our other train lines have a much more frequent service and while a cancellation means crowding, it is quite different to a forty minute gap between trains.

Of course if the line was duplicated, it could be much better utilised and of great benefit to passengers. There are no plans but oddly the government is funding the removal of a road level crossing that has minimal impact on traffic. It seems the government is at least putting two tracks down as part of the crossing. It is the beginning of duplication of the line but don't hold your breath for completion.

23 comments:

  1. I often depend on public transport and would like to see some major improvements here. Like not waiting an hour between buses. And two on the weekend. And not simply discontinuing some stops on the weekend...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. EC, the lightrail as proposed will be a good thing, but not help too many people. Sorry for you, but I think your town is so car focused, public transport will only ever be second best option. But lobbying for improvement can pay off.

      Delete
  2. OMFG the amount of times the Sunday 6.25pm train from Bendigo ends up running late cos they have to pull over to wait for the up train heading towards Swan Hill due to single track (Thanks Bracks/Brumby).
    Then the 60+ mins wait at So Cross for a Dandy/Cranbourne/Pakenham train to get home to Oakleigh can involve a wait for 30+ mins to get to Flinders Street, umpteen platform changes whilst they decide which one matches their handbag better, then the train arrive only to sit at the platform for a decade or so, adding an hour or more to travel that started at 5.30pm from Dunolly and gets us home after 10.30pm.
    Abso-fkn-lutely ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Five hours?? That IS ridiculous!

      Delete
    2. Jayne, by car? Two hours? It is one thing to argue for old train lines to be duplicated. It is quite another thing to argue for former dual track lines to be reinstated, but I think that is what has to be done.

      Delete
    3. River, I agree.

      Delete
    4. Yep, by car it's 2.5 - 3 hours, depending on traffic, which road you take, etc.
      Dual track would not only keep trains on schedule but enable more rail services ( yes, I live in hope some person at V/Line will rubber stamp more services).

      Delete
  3. I know you are discussing train systems within the one state (of Victoria). But it always struck me as bizarre that in the 19th century, each of the Australian colonies insisted on its own railway gauge. Huge country, tiny populations and passengers had to get out at every border and change trains????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought it was only SA and WA that had a smaller guage line. QLD, NSW, and VIC all had the same size.

      Delete
    2. River,

      Victoria and South Australia had wide gauge railway systems, New South Wales had a medium gauge system, and Queensland and WA had narrow gauges. It was a sign of the colonies' independence gone mad.

      Delete
    3. Hels, the same happened in Britain with different rail gauges. Being colonies, I guess they wanted to differentiate themselves from each other. Our Irish broad gauge is probably the best but standard gauge is surely preferable. One could laugh at how the different colonies went their own way with railways gauges, if it was still not relevant in 2016 with different gauges still causing problems.

      Delete
    4. River, it is so complicated. At one time SA was broad gauge, like Victoria, but changed to standard, I think. NSW was always standard gauge, as were their trams. Our trams are now standard gauge but most of train system is broad guage or dual gauge, which is in place to run trains to NSW and SA. Are you sorry you commented? I could go on.

      Delete
    5. Pretty right Hels, although I have not heard the term medium gauge before. I think the preferred term is standard gauge.

      Delete
    6. Not sorry I commented, because I've learned I was wrong and now know who had what. I think all states should get together on this and have one guage nationally for trains and trams.

      Delete
  4. I thought Melbourne had a good train system, none of this single track nonsense. I'm pretty sure almost all of Adelaide is dual track. Maybe I should take a few rides and find out... Or I could just ask at the main station.
    I like your title, nice amalgamation of Tuesday and Today. (Tueday)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. River, if you google Adelaide's train system, you will find out all you need to know, though it would be interesting to ask the train station staff. Tueday was a typo. How subtlety you pointed out my error with a compliment.

      Delete
  5. https://www.railpage.com.au/news/s/melbournes-phantom-railways

    ReplyDelete
  6. Andrew I know you are interestin in public transport. You are an expert

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gosia, not an expert. I just know more than most people.

      Delete
  7. I think we have all double lines here in Perth.. do we Andrew, you would know much better than me ☺

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As far as I know they are, Grace. Hmm, I just see you are going to get an airport train line, going on to Forrestfield after branching off at Bayswater. Estimated completion, 2020.

      Delete
  8. Definitely time we had an airport train line Andrew.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Definitely time we had an airport train line Andrew.

    ReplyDelete