The week in transport Toxic Custard newsletter

New timetables on 27th August, as Southland Station nears completion

New public transport timetables kick in on August 27th. Last week (or maybe it was the week before), PTV released details, including full timetables for the routes affected:

Altona Loop users rejoice! (A bit)

There will be no more Altona Loop shuttles. Weekday Altona Loop services will run through to Flinders St.

This also means Werribee trains will run express Newport-Footscray-North Melbourne, so both Altona and Werribee people win from this.

Of course the mostly single track through Altona means bypasses are set to continue. At least we now know the Kororoit Creek Road grade separation will include some duplication. Hopefully that makes a difference.

There hasn’t been a wholesale re-write of the timetable, so peak Williamstown and Altona services remain at every 22 minutes, while off-peak is 20!

V/Line V/Locity train on viaduct between Flinders Street and Southern Cross

More Geelong trains

The Geelong line will go to every 40 minutes on weekends. With constant overcrowding on the current hourly trains, this was only a matter of time, though heaven knows why they didn’t push the upgrades a little further to half-hourly, which would have meant more trains, a clockface timetable (40’s alternating hours has always been problematic) and preserving the bus connections, many of which are every 30-60 minutes.

As it is, bus connections will break. The premier Geelong bus service, route 1 from North Shore to Deakin, is every 30 minutes on weekends, and will remain so. It doesn’t take a genius to see that buses every 30 minutes don’t interface well with trains every 40 minutes.

V/Line have said in response to queries that it’s because the Sunbury line is every 20-40 minutes on weekends, and the Bendigo line is tied in with that, because they share some tracks… and the Bendigo line in turn interfaces with the Ballarat and Geelong lines. V/Line claims this prevents the Geelong line going to every 30 minutes.

But then, this is the organisation that has three out of four hourly services currently meeting at Deer Park Junction within a few minutes of each other, so I don’t think it’s unfair to say that their timetabling leaves something to be desired.

So has that been fixed? Well, yes and no:

  • Ballarat line at Deer Park, inbound: 15 past the hour. Outbound: 34
  • Geelong line at Deer Park, inbound: 12 and 52, or 32. Outbound: 07 and 47, or 27

So if the inbound Geelong train is 3 minutes late, every second hour it’ll delay an inbound Ballarat train. If it’s even later, it’ll delay an outbound Ballarat train as well, thanks to the flat junction.

You’d think they could have figured out better spacing between the Geelong and Ballarat trains. Aside from junction conflicts, Deer Park passengers will have 2-3 trains per hour: either at 12, 15, 52 past the hour, or at 15 and 32. Hmmmmm.

It remains to be seen whether V/Line continues to run their daily game of Mystery Platforms at Southern Cross.


The August 27th timetable for the Frankston line already includes Southland times:

Frankston line timetable showing Southland times

For those wondering about stopping patterns, the full timetable shows peak expresses will still run to/from Cheltenham, not stopping at Southland.

On Sunday afternoon I went and had a quick look at the station. It’s looking good. These views from the top of the shopping centre carpark.

The platforms are looking close to complete. Even some signage is now up.
Southland Station under construction

View looking towards the City. I’m guessing the structure closest the camera is the PSO pod and/or toilets. There seems to be plenty of coverage on the citybound platform; less so on the outbound platform.
Southland Station under construction

View looking towards Frankston. The southern ends of the platforms (as well as the entire citybound platform) are adjacent to houses, but it appears you won’t be able to see much from the platform. A few better view from the top of the Southland carpark :-/
Southland Station under construction

It’s good to see the pedestrian route through the carpark has been modified recently; it now heads more-or-less directly to the station entrance.
Southland Station - shopping centre car park

I’m not sure you’d say the station looks beautiful. I guess we’ll see what it looks like when it opens.

The station may look close to completion, but that is not to say that it is opening imminently. While the structure looks more and more functional every week, I’m hearing November is the likely opening date, with electrical and signalling works still underway.

I suppose until the station actually opens, the extra minute or two allowed in the timetables will be one less excuse Metro has for train delays.

It’ll be good to finally have it open – hopefully in time for the Christmas shopping rush.

Other timetable changes

Other changes on August 27th include additional trains on a number of lines: Werribee, Craigieburn (with all peak trains now via the Loop), Sunbury (some peak trains direct via Southern Cross), and some trains extended to Eltham.

There are also more V/Line services to Shepparton, Traralgon (approaching hourly on weekends, but not quite there yet), Bendigo, and Ballarat/Ararat. A number of local buses, both in metropolitan Melbourne and around Victoria, also have timetable changes.

All in all, some good upgrades. Enough? No, of course not – missing in action is any hint of a rollout of PTV’s 10 minute suburban train plan – but this is a step forward.

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.

18 replies on “New timetables on 27th August, as Southland Station nears completion”

Hi Daniel,

Do you know if Cheltenham will still have its third platform after the level crossing removal project?


Looks like all off-peak Geelong trains on weekdays will now stop at Deer Park, but continue what seems the pretty ridiculous stopping pattern of South Geelong trains not stopping North Shore and Waurn Ponds trains not stopping Corio. The other good change is adding Geelong-specific services (that will stop at Sunshine) in parallel to the Warrnambool services – hopefully these are V/Locity trains, not locomotive-hauled.

Interestingly, I’ve recently noticed that the 6.12am (at Sunshine) train to Waurn Ponds doesn’t stop at Marshall – presumably it passes a Melbourne-bound train on the passing loop at Marshall. Conductor announced the other day that if you wanted Marshall, you should get off at Geelong and wait for the next train (which is 48 minutes later)!

No Geelong weekend route bus services run at 40-minute intervals, so there will be no possibility of regular connections between buses and trains after 27 August, except for V/Line buses. Those who rely most on public transport are being dudded.

V/Line’s alleged excuse for having to run 40-minute Geelong services is nonsense. It’s the weekend, not the weekday peak, so there should be no problem with paths if timetabling is done correctly. In fact, what is lacking is the money and the will.

Note that TfV/PTV/V/Line are planning to run 40-minute off-peak services on the Ballarat line *during the week*, once various upgrades have been completed. Will Ballarat buses then run at 20- or 40-minute headways?

I suspect, from the roofing built, that the people who planned the roof at Southland Station may have just applied to normal suburban station roofing template for ordinary residential origin stations with heaviest boarding loading inbound in the morning peak and there is little outbound boarding loading at anytime, thus where the most roofing is needed on the inbound platform.

Southland, as more of a destination station, will have significant outbound boarding most of the afternoon, particularly in the afternoon peak when many of the trains will be more heavily loaded and have Southland passengers alighting as well, creating need to have maximum evenness of distribution along the platform. The excellent coverage will be excellent for the morning peak inbound passengers` distribution along the platform, as well as inbound afternoon passengers on their way home.

I think that Southland Station will increase the argument for starting the express running of the last 3 expresses of the morning peak at Cheltenham (rather than Moorabbin), with the corresponding change in starting point of the stopping services to Cheltenham or even Mordialloc (to separate the Southland passengers from the city express passengers and stop them having to change at Cheltenham). Extending the running of express services further into the shoulder-peak may also now be justified. Continuing increases in the population surrounding the line through developments, including the big development next to Toorak Station, also help these arguments.

The termination of the first 2 stopper services of the afternoon peak at Cheltenham platform 1 will require all passengers from Southland for stations beyond Cheltenham to change, via the Charman Rd pedestrian level crossing (until the level crossing is abolished), to a service that ran express through Southland and could be very full at Cheltenham. Extending these stoppers to Mordialloc would dramatically reduce this problem.

From what that FAQ says, outbound Frankston services will continue to use platform 3, rather than platform 2, when the new platform 2 is not being used for terminating trains. That is interesting.

I like that they’ve used the curved pseudo-Challingsworth verandah brackets on the down platform, to match some of the aesthetics of other stations on the line.

The Cheltenham track layout is apparently planned to match Blackburn, with no link from the Island platform to the down line. Hopefully that will change at a later stage.

I presume the reason as to why there is more ‘coverage’ on the to city platform is to address concerns of local residents about noise (e.g. it’s more about providing privacy, noise reduction and preventing light spill than providing coverage to passengers). Given demand for shopping centers is quite even (e.g no heavy peaks) and the presence of a ten minute service I think the level of coverage will be way more than what is required to keep passengers dry waiting on the platform. As to whether full weather coverage from the shopping centre to the station is required, I think it falls into the “desirable but not essential” category.

My crystal ball gazing – the new station will prove so popular that when Southland next expands, it will expand towards the station. Perhaps even including the station within the shopping centre – or at least offer people exiting the from city platform the ability to enter straight into the shopping centre.

It’s going to be really fascinating to see the patronage for this station.

Station canopy lengths are not just about being able to cover all the passengers, they are also about encouraging passengers to spread out along the platform to minimise dwell time and carriage specific overcrowding.

There will be shopping centre patronage peaks and troughs at Southland station. There will be a Southland worker arrival peak around opening, corresponding with the departing patronage peak for locals who work and/or learn in the inner-city (making platform 1 very busy at that time, potentially causing dwell time and crowding issues for the last 3 expresses of the morning peak that stop there) on weekdays.

It is unlikely that there will be many departing shoppers or Southland workers until the very late morning at least. The station is likely to get busy with post-school traffic after 3pm.

At closing time for the shops, there will be a departing passengers peak (first shoppers, then workers), which will correspond with evening peak for local residents commuting to the inner city on weekdays (although the effect will be lessened on Thursdays and Fridays with most shops open until 9pm) and this will make platform 2 very busy with both alighting and boarding, although dwell time issues will be reduced by there not being many other passengers on those trains, having alighted before Southland (with passengers from the inner-city for further out using the expresses).

Extending Southland towards the railway has potential, although it would be a major rebuild with a likely relocation of Myer and a significant proportion of the parking to allow the extension of the main shopping centre. Towards the railway has the advantage of not being too close to homes to cause crowding issues. Most other expansion directing run into land issues. A shorter term modification may be direct Myer-station access via the car park, car park issues permitting, to have a greater flow of people through Myer.

However building over the railway has several potential disadvantages. Firstly it would likely reduce options for extra tracks and platforms at Southland. Secondly, it could make it a not nice Box Hill style dark station. Thirdly, the homes on the other side of the line would be a bit close if the line was extended.

The shorter term pressure on Southland will be on the opening hours of some of the shops for the sorts of things people would buy on the way home on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with lots of the passengers from the other side of the Nepean Highway likely to walk through Southland to avoid the lights and some people from the station side of the Highway making detours. Food and chemists being the primary likely examples.

I agree the patronage will be fascinating to see. I think the PTV estimate of around 4,000 passengers a day may be a bit underdone.

Patronage on the non-Southland side of the railway will not be helped by the lack of access to Tulip Grove and having to walk through the narrow section of footpath road dip under railway bridge in Bay Rd. I predict afternoon peak crowding. Any parking issues can be fixed with permit zones and are likely to largely occur anyway with the station being there and the new parking restrictions/charges in the shopping centre itself. The lack of pedestrian access between Crocus Court and Luxmoore St will not help either. Pedestrian bridges on either side of the railway bridge over Bay Rd would not hurt either.

” There will be a Southland worker arrival peak around opening, corresponding with the departing patronage peak for locals who work and/or learn in the inner-city”

This seems like a very dubious claim. How early do shopping mall workers start ?

Platform 2 should be roofed at least as much as platform 1, to distribute boarding passengers as evenly as possible in the afternoon peak.

The vast majority of the shops open at 9am on weekdays and most over the others open at either 8:30 or 9:30 and I strongly suspect that those shops will need employees to turn up to do start of day work before the shops open. That means a strong peak of workers arriving 7:45-9:30 am (mainly 8:15-9 am), a.k.a. morning peak.

Southland station may also change the economics of opening coffee/food establishments earlier with station-bound added customers buying before their morning peak trip.

[…] In 2010, Laverton via Altona Loop to City trains were introduced; just two at first. From 2011, all weekday (until about 7pm) Altona Loop trains started commencing at Laverton, and all trains from Werribee ran direct from Laverton to Newport, allowing a big increase in the latter. (This change introduced the much-hated Altona Loop off-peak shuttles, with Werribee trains running direct. The shuttles are finally getting fixed next week.) […]

Southland station official opening on the 26th November. I would certainly consider using this station after 1 month’s time (27th of Dec) during the boxing day+ stocktake sales, but before then, I want to avoid the Xmas rush!
As for the rip-off over-priced retail shops in Glenhuntly Rd Elsternwick & Glenferrie Rd Malvern (& crummy “derro” Chapel Street) , the game’s up with these rapacious landlords.
I think also Chadstone will now have to help extend the No 3 tramline to it’s shopping precint, as the “out-of-touch” Mr Gandel (the part owner of Chadstone with his Hong Kong partners), will now see the success of public transportation is to the sustainability of these mega shopping malls. If there’s no public transport links (that more than half of the customers use-eg school kids, teenagers & old aged pensioners) shopping centre malls (like Chadstone) could end up closing down, like many of these car-dependent malls in the United States. Also we need to extend the No 75 tram towards the Knox shopping centre as well & help re-boost flagging retail sales.

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