Politics and activism PTUA transport

Missed opportunity

Yesterday there were demonstrators outside the SX building in Exhibition Street, with brochures, a big banner calling for a Royal Commission. Into what? I’m not sure to be honest; it wasn’t obvious. I didn’t look too closely and I didn’t take a brochure as I had other things on my mind.

The Premier John Brumby and his staff walked out of the building, followed a couple of minutes later by all the journalists I’d been waiting for. Brumby had been making an announcement about train timetables.

Not one of the protestors moved. They didn’t budge. They didn’t call out. They didn’t try and have a word with Brumby or the journos, or even thrust a brochure in their direction.

Did they even notice the Premier was there?

I still don’t know what their cause was. Bay dredging? The desalination plant? The water pipeline? Werribee loop trains?

Don’t know. But I do know that if they’d been a tad quicker on their feet, they might have got a word with someone who in all probability may be able to influence whatever it was they were campaigning for — or got some media attention.

You have to pay attention. They missed an opportunity.

And the train announcement? Thumbs up. It’s exactly what we need. The trains are crowded, so we need more, but under the current timetables, almost everything’s squashed into the loop, and conflicting movements slow everything down. So changing the operating plan so some trains bypass the loop, or run through it in a different direction, allows more trains onto the tracks, and means when the 18 extras start arriving next year, they’ll be able to be deployed in peak hours, where they’re needed most.

So some people will have to change trains, or have a slightly longer trip. But others will have shorter trips, and more train services will mean less crowding, and shorter waiting times. Everybody wins.

It’s precisely what I was talking about last week: making better use of the infrastructure.

Update Saturday morning: Why the PTUA is supporting the changes to metropolitan train timetables

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

11 replies on “Missed opportunity”

I do recollect that when the loop first opened there were services that by-passed the loop entirely, cutting that extra 15 mins off the trip completely.
The Tribe are very happy here :D

Train announcement sounds good. Of course my line (Upfield) loses again – no changes, no extras, nothing doing – but going by conditions on it (packed in peak) I shudder to think what the other lines are like if they need more attention. But it would be really really nice if they just ran 6-car trains on the upfield line through the day, or at least until 10:30am. I caught one at 20 to 10 today and it was seriously chockers. At 20 minute intervals, too.

It doesn’t really effect me at all since I’m at Hawthorn and Alamein, Lilydale and Belgrave appear to be the least to change in all this. I do have friends on the Hurstbridge/Epping Lines who aren’t happy about the loop change. The logic mystifies me… because trains need to wait to enter the loop for oncoming trains at Jolimont? There’s a very simple solution to this… run the inbound trains on the outbound track, and vice versa. Problem solved, trains don’t cut each other off and the loop (at least for that line) can maintain it’s current direction.

The other thing I read is about changing trains at Spencer St/Southern Cross. Ever since that travesty was built, changing trains from country to suburban almost requires a cut lunch to get from one platform to the other. They need to reopen the subway (which must still be there, it’s just not open any more).

I’m also mystified how Werribee trains are going to travel one way around the loop, and Craigieburn/Upfield will travel the other way. Is there some new “transparent train” technology I’m not aware of? ;)

Jayne, that’s precisely the problem now. Almost every train runs via the loop, so they have to move some out to get more trains running.

cp, the Upfield line may be crowded, but nowhere near the levels of the other lines such as Sydenham and Werribee. Mind you, it’s still a problem when they run short trains, yeah.

Nathan, like Upfield, the Burnley lines may be crowded, but not at the levels the others. And in many cases, you have a much shorter time to wait if you miss a train.

Apart from around the loop (which is signalled in both directions), you can’t swap the tracks the trains use without re-signalling the line. And anyway, the current operation is grossly unfair to people using Flinders St (the busiest station), who currently go the long way round in both AM and PM!

I’m not sure the Spencer St subway does still exist; it may have been filled-in. The second subway does; it’s used for service trucks.

The Age got it wrong – Werribee trains in peak will not go around the loop, at all.


I’m a Weribee user, so NATURALLY you guys are all okay with this. Me? Not so much.

HOORAY NEW TRAINS FOR ALL THESE LINES HURRAH! Oh, and in fine print “they’re not new trains, they’re being taken from the Weribee line LOL sucks to be them.”

MY DAILY COMMUTE: Get on, get off at Parliament.

NOW: Get on, get off at Nth Melb, walk over several Nth Melb platforms, wait, get on loop train, get off at Parliament.


Yeah. *So* happy you’re all so happy. Woo. Hoo.

Agreed that FSS people get the wrong end of the stick for the am peak, but these days I’d regard FSS as being the favoured station for the PM peak; it and (usually) SSS provide the only chances of getting a seat :)

Crowding has meant that Parliament now has the wrath of the loop in the afternoon, rather than being the most favoured station as it used to be.

Looper, you get two extra trains as soon as this change happens, and it enables heaps more. Werribee desperately needs extra trains, and yes, some people are going to have to change trains, but take a look at the track diagrams around North Melbourne and you’ll understand why it’s Werribee that’s been chosen to come out of the loop.

With extra trains, waiting times will reduce, and you may in fact find your total trip is about the same time, or shorter. And it’ll certainly be easier to squeeze on board.

Some of these changes are so bleeding obvious I wonder why it has taken so long to get them into action. Any extra trains are always welcome.

I am a Hurstbridge Line commuter and the change suits me fine as I usually change at Parliament to Northern Loop train to Flinders Street where I get a train on the Ringwood Line to my final destination. This change will cut about 5 minutes off my journey, and will stop me from sometimes missing a connecting train.

If I was going to Flagstaff or Melbourne Central however, I wouldn’t be happy. As for passengers going to Parliament, I can see them getting off at Jolimont and taking a nice relaxing walk through the Fitzroy Gardens to work.

So the Werribee people get screwed. Again.

The extra services to the Werribee line they started last time were a complete farce. Everything stops at Yarraville – that was the “extra service” – and on a 7.05 and 7.25 train from Werribee, it’s a now rare day when I see everyone waiting at platform three at Footscray being able to squeeze onto the train. And whoot! Two extra trains… one from Flinders in the four o’clock hour in the afternoon! (Can’t remember when the other one is.) Yeah, that’s useful. Not.


Upfield line may be crowded, but nowhere near the levels of the other lines such as Sydenham and Werribee.

Oy. That proves that you’ve never (or rarely) been on an Upfield train especially in peak hour. Try regularly having a three-carriage train at 7.45 at Parkville in the morning or on the peak hour in the evening. They say it wasn’t happening but it was and still is. And you wait 20 minutes between trains for that joy, just like the Werribee trains. It got so bad that I actually started catching the 6.45 Upfield-City in the morning just so I could avoid the insane crush. The only difference is that the Upfield peak times seem to be slightly shorter than Syd/W’bee.

The problem with having to change trains at North Melb is that you simply cannot get on a train! They’re packed and with more trains not going through the loop, grabbing a train there is going to be worse. The one or two extra trains that will be able to go through the loop that will already be quite full by the time they get there will not help the several hundred left stranded at North Melbourne.

This is the crap that I religiously pay $161 a month for.

Ugh, sorry for the rant. My frustration is at the incompetence of the people who run the trains, not you, Daniel. It just leaves me steaming. Anyway, it’s now a moot point, I’m so sick of the rubbish with the trains that I’m looking into booking my motorbike test soon. It’s going to be cheaper and far less stressful.

Ren, I’m not talking about Upfield when they screw up and run 3 car trains. I’m talking about when things are running “normally”, then it’s not as crowded as the others. If there are cancellations or 3-car trains, that’s a whole different ball game — all bets are off.

North Melb will change; it won’t be less trains through the loop, it’ll be different trains (eg less Werribees, more Sydenhams). And in the morning you can change at Southern Cross onto relatively uncrowded Clifton Hill trains going into the loop.

Plus with more trains direct into Southern Cross, I’m betting more people off the loop trains will change off them.

Oh, and there may be a pleasant surprise for Werribee coming up. But I can’t talk about that. :-/

BTW the extras on Werribee on November when this change hits are separate from the ones announced for April (eg the 4:whatever from the city).

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