Expensive third track costs Hurstbridge line

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has slammed plans by the State Government to spend over $1 billion building a third track on the Dandenong train line – which will be at the expense of projects such as the Hurstbridge line upgrades, benefiting the entire north-eastern suburbs, and other projects in the upcoming “Transport and Liveability” statement.

PTUA spokesman Christopher Trikilis questions the government’s motives of spending enormous amounts of money on an unnecessary project when many parts of Melbourne desperately require better public transport services. “We’re talking about an outrageous sum of money that could duplicate the ‘pinch points’ allow peak hour trains every 5 minutes on the busy Hurstbridge line, and new lines to places like Doncaster, Rowville and Mernda.”

Private train operator Connex claims that a third track is needed in order to allow more trains from Dandenong to run in peak hour. “That’s utter rubbish,” Mr. Trikilis said. “Train scheduling experts from Europe, North America and Japan state a double track with a mixture of stopping and express trains should be able to handle close to 20 trains an hour in each direction. That’s over double what we have now. The international benchmark for rail lines is 30,000 passengers per track per hour, yet currently the Dandenong line sees just 35,000 per track per day!”

Mr. Trikilis said the money and staff time would be more wisely spent bringing first-rate public transport to vast areas of the suburbs that currently lack it, especially the Hurstbridge line, where rail infrastructure has hardly been upgraded in a decades, peak hour services are currently at capacity, and train speeds are the same as in 1930.

“There is a genuine concern that much needed and previously promised projects such as the fixing the Hurstbridge line will simply be abandoned by the government as it attempts to construct this costly and unnecessary third track to Dandenong”, Mr. Trikilis said. “There has been no committal that the bottleneck removal on the line will be announced as a simple and effective way to control growing traffic problems in the north-east. It is a disgrace.”

“With petrol prices spiralling out of control we can’t afford to leave two-thirds of Melbourne high and dry with no alternatives,” Mr. Trikilis said. “It’s time to complete Melbourne’s rail network allowing frequent trains on all lines, and rolling out a proper network of feeder buses running longer hours between people’s homes and train stations.”

“With a billion dollars and some planning expertise, we could give the whole of Melbourne the best public transport in the world rather than keep it in this languishing state. The state government must now stand up and deliver to Hurstbridge line commuters”, Mr. Trikilis concluded.