Signalling could boost rail capacity by 50%

Signalling could boost rail capacity by 50%Installation of high capacity signalling across Melbourne’s rail network would improve the capacity of the network by 50%, the Public Transport Users Association says.

Speaking at the 5th Annual Victorian Transport Infrastructure Conference, PTUA President Dr Tony Morton outlined how an upgrade to Melbourne’s network would increase the capacity of lines into the city, accommodating up to 33 trains per hour. Currently lines into the city run 16-24 trains per hour at peak times.

“Networks in European cities with high capacity signalling systems have trains scheduled every 2 minutes in inner areas,” Dr Morton said. “These cities are ensuring that the urban infrastructure will sustain the economic and environmental needs of their city into the future.”

The London Underground recently commenced upgrading signalling across the network, with the Victoria line running 33 trains per hour. The latest upgrade, covering 310km of track, cost only AU$570 million and is the sort of infrastructure investment that enables global cities to retain a competitive edge.

Given the low cost of upgrading to high capacity signalling, Dr Morton asked why upgrades remained low on the State Government’s priority list. “Compared to the East West Link, high capacity signalling will enable the efficient movement of people across Metropolitan Melbourne where 80% of Victoria’s jobs are located,” he said. “East West Link Stage 1 is budgeted to cost AU$6-8billion, and was assessed by Sir Rod Eddington as having a benefit-cost ratio of just 50 cents for every dollar spent.”

“This government was elected on a promise to fix public transport, but people are still packing into trains like sardines. High-capacity signalling across the network has the best chance of solving the problem and enabling extensions to Doncaster, Rowville, Mernda and the airport.”

“Rail is a more efficient method for transporting people than cars,” Dr Morton said. “Even with Melbourne’s rail network as it is now, about 17,000 citybound commuters travel through Footscray Station each hour during the morning peak compared with around 7,500 crossing the West Gate Bridge.”