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Peak-hour rail crisis coming, Metro warns

Date

Adam Carey

Commuters during peak hour.

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.

It is instead investigating an alternative plan of letting Metro terminate trains at platform eight at Southern Cross - which is now used by V/Line - as a stop-gap solution until the proposed multibillion-dollar Melbourne Metro tunnel is built.

''The potential to run more trains through to Flinders Street is limited and city access for northern group trains is expected to reach that limit within the next three to four years,'' former director of public transport Hector McKenzie wrote to Mr Mulder, in a briefing dated September 1, 2011.

''The Melbourne Metro is designed to address that problem in the longer term. Any initiatives to terminate trains at Southern Cross Station would be only interim in nature.''

Mr McKenzie said giving Metro and V/Line shared use of the platforms would require construction of a new rail overpass across the Sunbury line, new V/Line train stabling yards and new overhead electric wires.

''A full economic evaluation of the [Metro] proposal was carried out, which showed the reliability benefits were not justified given the cost and passenger disbenefits,'' he wrote.

A spokesman for Public Transport Victoria said the authority was working with Metro to find ways of increasing rail capacity using existing infrastructure.

''This includes proposals for the use of platform eight at Southern Cross Station, particularly at times of increased demand such as special events such as Oaks Day and the Royal Melbourne Show,'' the spokesman said.

Metro and V/Line have previously advised the department that platform eight was a poor option because it would result in Metro trains running across tracks used by V/Line trains.

109 comments

  • Yet again the people in the north and the west are being betrayed by a government that promised to govern for all. Why are we being treated as the poorer cousins here? MPs have free access to public transport, unlike the rest of us. Well I challenge them to travel on trams, trains and buses regularly and not simply when there are cameras about. maybe then they will understand what we go through.

    Commenter
    Ange Kenos
    Date and time
    November 26, 2012, 7:43AM
    • Because the west is a labour held seat, and the Govt wont gain it with another empty promise of increased public transport, so why bother??

      Either that, or it involves our govt actually 'doing' something!!!

      Commenter
      Train nut
      Date and time
      November 26, 2012, 8:14AM
    • How many seats do the Libs have in the northwest? They know they can't win seats so why spend time/ money.......They are just like the Labor party.....ooopps that's Labor heartland......you wouldn't tell though, Labor ignores them as well.....

      Commenter
      shemp
      Location
      melb
      Date and time
      November 26, 2012, 8:53AM
    • Both Labor and Liberal have failed in public transport. Minister Guy recently announced a new suburb near Werribee that is deliberately planned without public transport. The East-West freeway proposal looks like going ahead without a Cost Benefit Analysis, because every man and his dog knows it will do nothing for congestion, but will line the pockets of the few at the expense of the many.

      A recent Age poll showed about 95% of people wanted Public Transport over more roads and freeways.

      The only Party that genuinely understands the importance of public transport, and has the integrity to implement it is the Greens. If 90% of people want public transport, we need to see at least 5 Greens seats in the next State election.

      Commenter
      Riddley Walker
      Location
      Inland
      Date and time
      November 26, 2012, 9:09AM
    • @shemp - you only get attention if you are in a marginal - best policy is always vote against the incumbent. You are right - I am in safe Labor territory (Wyndham) and we get nothing from them.

      Commenter
      MrDog
      Date and time
      November 26, 2012, 10:22AM
    • Don't you complain about poor public transport in the N and W.....you see the government hasn't spend millions on consultants as yet to justify any further increase in infrastructure in that area. Please wait and suffer until a few 100 millions are spent trying to convince the government that a problem of congestion exists, which btw, wont be resolved by adding more roads.
      Uncle Teddy was born and bought up in Toorak and now lives in hawthorn, i highly doubt he'd would have crossed over the west-gate bridge anymore than his work required, i reckon he couldn't care less.

      Commenter
      GGx
      Date and time
      November 26, 2012, 10:48AM
  • how could you possibly get an increase in overcrowding on the craigieburn line than the sardine cans at peak hour already? I think the problem is not enough trains - not platforms

    Commenter
    roofie
    Location
    craigieburn
    Date and time
    November 26, 2012, 7:44AM
    • I think they're saying that if you get more trains, you need more platforms to accommodate them. Otherwise they'll be queued up waiting their turn to stop at the same few platforms we have.

      Commenter
      Dave
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      November 26, 2012, 8:06AM
    • And where will you put the extra trains you add, if not on the extra platforms??

      Or do we have a pile up?? SIGH!

      Commenter
      Train nut
      Date and time
      November 26, 2012, 8:15AM
    • But to allow trains on those platforms would mean that when 2016 rolls around the solution would no longer be there. It's a complacent solution to an ongoing problem.

      Commenter
      NathanD
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      November 26, 2012, 10:40AM

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