There’s been a flurry of pre-budget announcements in the world of PT.
Hurstbridge line works extended by a week as they grapple with signalling issues on the rebuilt section of track. Apparently it’s down to compatibility issues between new signalling equipment and old.
This was announced on Tuesday afternoon. Amazingly, almost 24 hours later, PTV’s generally excellent weekly disruptions email came out, still quoting the old dates. And 36 hours after the announcement, the regular printed newspaper advertisement for Metro disruptions didn’t mention it at all.
Reading the newspaper old skool. What's missing from the PTV/#MetroTrains travel update? The Hurstbridge line works delays. Lucky there's an article about it right next door.? pic.twitter.com/QbkKSaK1e1
— Daniel Bowen (@danielbowen) April 25, 2018
New Metro timetables coming later this year – including extending 10 minute services on the Dandenong line to 10pm (apparently misunderstood by some commenters on The Age article), and more peak services on the South Morang/Mernda line and Hurstbridge lines, the latter making use of the newly duplicated section of track.
Also some extras expected on the Werribee line, but not clear exactly what. Still no commitment to a widespread rollout of 10-minute off-peak services, but it’s a step in the right direction.
More investment in upgrading the Dandenong line has also been announced – power, signalling, which it notes “paving the way for the Cranbourne line duplication” – this can’t come soon enough.
$50 million to investigate high speed rail to Geelong. It sounds a bit pie-in-the-sky, but actually it makes a lot of sense to look at the next step in the evolution of the regional rail network.
The upgrades last decade to 160 kmh were good, but that’s not particularly fast by world standards. Moving to 200 (something the UK has had for 30+ years) and beyond would slash travel times — and may be more affordable than the 300 some are talking about.
But even 300 would be possible, as much of the Geelong line is straight and flat.
This seems to be part of the State Government’s moves towards shaking up the regional network alongside construction of an airport link, with Sunshine as a hub.
Airport Rail. Geelong Fast Rail. Here’s how we’re going to do it. pic.twitter.com/ahivW3eE4M
— Daniel Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) April 26, 2018
In any case, the short-term need is to separate out Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo trains from suburban services, including electrification and extra tracks out to Melton and Wyndham Vale. This would provide some travel time improvements, and more importantly, relieve crowding and cut delays.
And yes, it might be possible to divert the Bendigo and Seymour/Shepparton lines via the Airport… but we shouldn’t assume the same trains will serve suburban airport passengers. They would need to be additional services.
Not really budget-related, but in other recent news, there are a bunch of network changes coming in May, including:
- New tram timetables, with extra peak-shoulder and evening services on some routes — on tram 19, this will partially (but not fully) restore cuts from 2017
- Extra bus services on routes 631, 703 and 767 — including upgrading the awful 703 timetable from every 45-50 minutes on Sundays to every half-hour (still the route will shut down at 9pm though, and there seems to be no adjustment to take advantage of the removal of Clayton level crossing)
- Extra coaches between Seymour and Shepparton
- Numerous minor timetable changes and upgrades to some buses in the northern and western suburbs
It’s well worth keeping an eye on this PTV page to see what other changes fly under the radar.
As we move towards the November state election, things are getting interesting.