Rail planning more broken than ever: fix it, say users

North Melbourne stationThe new Metro train timetable shows why urgent reform is needed in public transport planning, the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) said today.

While Metro’s new timetable, to take effect from May, brings some extra services, it comes at a cost. Some stations have their peak services reduced, and run at confusing 22 minute frequencies.

“This just shows what a truly woeful state our public transport planning has been left in,” said PTUA President Daniel Bowen said. “$92.6 million of taxpayers’ money has just been spent upgrading Laverton station [1], yet now Metro says that to run peak-hour trains reliably on the line, they have to give Williamstown and Altona passengers a timetable they have no chance of memorising.

“It’s as though our planning bureaucracy is saying we can have either a memorable, user-friendly timetable, or reliable trains, but not both. Is this really the best we can do in the 21st century?

“Metro have also been saddled with the dodgy Siemens train fleet whose brakes still haven’t been fixed after 7 years,” he said. “It’s not really Metro’s fault, but all the same: is it really necessary to take the Frankston line, the worst-performing line in the system, that the previous government all but lost an election over, and make the timetable even slower?”

Mr Bowen said other issues likely to raise the ire of passengers included changes to the city loop, reduced off-peak services on the outer section of the Werribee line.

“In July 2009 the Werribee line was upgraded to run about every 10 minutes on weekdays between the peaks [2]. It was said with much fanfare that 10 minute services would be the way of the future, yet they’re axing them just 18 months later. Why did they bother going to every 10 minutes only to downgrade it again so soon?”

Mr Bowen said that the push for more punctual peak train services was laudable, and that the PTUA supported the re-write of timetables to remove the current “dog’s breakfast” of inconsistent frequencies and confusing stopping patterns.

But he said the new timetable was a textbook example of poor planning, and pointed to the urgency of getting the new government’s Public Transport Development Authority up and running. “Someone has to take charge and make this system work for passengers. The Baillieu Government promised an end to this kind of planning failure and now they have to follow through”, Mr Bowen concluded.

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[1] Werribee line: Laverton rail upgrade, completed 2010 at a cost of $92.6 million.
http://www.transport.vic.gov.au/web23/Home.nsf/AllDocs/38EF9DD0EC24BDD0CA2575F2001865E7?OpenDocument

[2] The Age, 29/5/2009: Connex to add 300 new rail services to cope with commuter squeeze
http://www.theage.com.au/national/connex-to-add-300-new-rail-services-to-cope-with-commuter-squeeze-20090529-bpji.html

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What exactly is changing?

Final details of the new timetable have not been finalised or confirmed, but we have summarised the known changes based on available information. This information is subject to change.

Contrary to a report in one of the local newspapers, Altona, Seaholme and Westona will continue to have off-peak train services, however these will be shuttles between Laverton and Newport.

Line Time Current Proposed
All lines     Running times to be reviewed and extended in some cases
Williamstown Peak Every 20 minutes
Direct to Flinders St
Every 22 minutes
Direct to Flinders St
Williamstown Weekday off-peak Every 20 minutes shuttle Newport to Williamstown only Every 20 minutes
Direct to Flinders St, then to Frankston
Altona Loop (Altona/ Seaholme/ Westona) Peak Every 20 minutes
Direct to Flinders St
Every 22 minutes
Direct to Flinders St
Altona Loop (Altona/ Seaholme/ Westona) Weekday off-peak Every 20 minutes to/from City Loop Every 20 minutes shuttle Newport to Laverton only
Werribee (Laverton to Werribee) Peak Every 5-20 minutes
Direct to Flinders St
Some via Altona Loop
Every 11 minutes
Direct to Flinders St
All express Laverton to Newport
Werribee (Laverton to Werribee) Weekday off-peak Every 8-12 minutes
Half via Altona Loop
Half to/from City Loop, half direct to Flinders St
Every 20 minutes
All express Laverton to Newport
All direct to Flinders St, then to Frankston
Glen Waverley AM peak Every 8-10 minutes
To City Loop
Every 7.5 minutes
Direct to Flinders St
Glen Waverley AM off-peak Every 15 minutes
To City Loop
Every 15 minutes (TBC)
Direct to Flinders St
Alamein/ Blackburn/ Ringwood (stopping trains) AM peak Direct to Flinders St To City Loop
Frankston Weekday off-peak Every 10 minutes
Half to/from City Loop, half direct to Flinders St then to Southern Cross and Werribee
All direct to Flinders St, then to Southern Cross and Werribee/ Williamstown
Sandringham Peak Every 9-10 minutes, direct to Flinders St Every 8 minutes, direct to Flinders St

We understand also that the Werribee, Williamstown and Dandenong lines will be upgraded to run every 20 minutes until 10pm on weekdays (joining the Frankston line which changed to this frequency last year). There will also be additional weekday trains from Blackburn into the city during the morning after peak hour.

What does it mean for passengers?

  • Passengers between Werribee and the Altona Loop will now have to change trains at Laverton
  • Passengers between Altona Loop and the City will have to change trains at Newport during weekday off-peak times
  • City passengers whose service is changing should check their options, which include using a different city station (for instance Bourke Street is equidistant to Melbourne Central and Flinders Street), changing trains at North Melbourne, Richmond or Flinders Street, or catching a tram within the CBD

Please note this information is subject to change, and has not been confirmed by Metro. We encourage all passengers to check the timetables when they are published.

What do you think about the changes? Tell Metro what you think.

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