A major shutdown of the southern part of the Frankston line for level crossing works started on 31st January, and was meant to finish about a week later at the end of Sunday 7th February.
It was not to be. On Sunday afternoon, a delay was announced. They said works (and buses) would continue until the end of Monday.
On Monday they announced that works would continue until the end of Tuesday:
And on Tuesday afternoon… they announced that works would continue to the end of… Sunday – merging with an already-planned shutdown scheduled for the weekend.
Good afternoon!— Daniel Bowen (@danielbowen) February 9, 2021
Works and replacement buses on the Frankston line will run until the end of S̶̷u̶̷n̶̷d̶̷a̶̷y̶̷ M̶̷o̶̷n̶̷d̶̷a̶̷y̶̷ T̶̷u̶̷e̶̷s̶̷d̶̷a̶̷y̶̷ SUNDAY.
So, completion a full week late. #FKNLine ??? pic.twitter.com/orHwle3Ing
I guess we’ll see in a few days if the works are completed and the trains do indeed come back next Monday – a full week later than first planned.
This is by no means the first time this has happened.
A few years ago a shutdown at St Albans/Ginifer ran late, with repeated delays.
But more recently in December 2020, a shutdown of the Werribee line also ran well over time. Like the current Frankston line shutdown, it too was originally meant to run for about a week.
An incident on the 4th of December put paid to that: a freight train rolled through the Cherry Street crossing with the boom gates up (open), narrowly missing several cars. It’s being investigated, but it sounds like it was a minor miracle that nobody was hit.
Marcus Wong tracked the ensuing chaos – authorities extended the shutdown for a week… and then for another two weeks, eventually finishing after Christmas. So what should have been a one week shutdown ran for four weeks.
The silver lining is that right now, ridership is low, so fewer people are affected. But that won’t last. Patronage is growing each week.
I’ve mostly quoted Metro’s tweets here, but it’s not actually down to them. These issues are related to infrastructure projects managed by the Level Crossing Removal Program.
Big rail projects like these often involve unexpected issues – be it unmapped infrastructure under the ground. In both these cases it appears to relate to unexpected complexity with replacing (or reinstating) ancient complicated legacy signalling systems.
But repeated shutdowns running a week or more over time seems to indicate they need to do much better at their project resourcing – and their planning.