Category Archives: Election 2014

MyRailLine: the PTUA’s assessment

Numerous people have been asking us about the claims in the “MyRailLine” brochures and web site, launched by the Coalition in an effort to convince rail passengers to re-elect them.

Here’s the summary — you can read all the detail below. Our judgement is that some of the Coalition’s claims are justified, some false, and some are somewhere in between.

MyRailLine assessment

Full details

All lines:

Coalition claim PTUA view Verdict
Coalition-backed Melbourne Rail Link has greater capacity than Labor-backed Metro Rail Tunnel. In reality both schemes have similar track capacity. The claim assumes the Liberal plan includes high-capacity signalling and trains, and that Labor plan doesn’t. False
Better on-time performance under Coalition. This has been largely achieved through padding the time-table (often to excess) and skipping stations. There is no mention of cancellation rates, which have largely not changed. Dubious
Safer stations thanks to PSOs. It’s unclear if any stats to back this up, since many stations have very little crime, though anecdotal evidence suggests most people do feel safer with their presence… but not before 6pm, as PSOs are not on duty then. Probably justified (but where’s the evidence?)
Coalition will build airport rail link, and that Labor won’t. It is true Labor have said they don’t consider Airport Rail a priority.

However the Coalition has funded less than 10% of the total cost. Actual construction isn’t yet funded, and won’t start until at least 2016.

Free CBD trams from January Of little benefit to existing train users (which is who the Coalition’s material is aimed at) because their fare to the CBD includes tram travel. In fact CBD trams are likely to get more crowded than at present. True, but little or no benefit
“Labor & Daniel Andrews will jack up fares by 44 per cent for travellers within zone 2.” This Coalition claim is apparently based on a single radio interview in July where Daniel Andrews incorrectly said zone 2 would be removed. It has been repeatedly contradicted by Labor policy material which clearly says zone 2-only fares would remain. False
“Labor Will rip up Swanston Walk for four years to build proposed Melbourne Metro.” Coalition estimates for disruptions to Swanston Street have varied between two and ten years. The actual truth is unclear, but many cities (including Melbourne) have built rail tunnels without major disruption.

There is likely to be disruption to north/west and Clifton Hill rail lines during construction of the Coalition’s East West Link (just as there were disruptions to the Ringwood line when EastLink was built).

“Labor has NO plan for second road crossing of the Yarra River, NO Airport Rail Link and NO real plan to reduce congestion.” EWLink won’t cross the Yarra River, nor is it the “second” river crossing. Nor, as decades of road building has shown, will it reduce congestion. Justified, even if factually wrong

The line-by-line claims are mostly less contentious. We’ve summarised them below.

  • Alamein – nothing specific. Includes Zone 2 claim despite the line not going into zone 2.
  • Belgrave – notes 3 level crossing removals (2 already done), Ringwood station re-development, extra services added.
  • Craigieburn – notes track upgrades and 29 extra services (already added?), Airport Rail Link (little use to most on this line, as it would be a huge detour)
  • Cranbourne – notes the Dandenong line package, and already-added extra services.
  • Flemington Racecourse/Showgrounds – “By building Melbourne Rail Link travellers will have new options to reach Flemington Racecourse and the Showgrounds precinct quicker and in more comfort than ever before.” Also includes Zone 2 claim despite the line not going into zone 2.
  • Frankston – notes Bayside Rail project, Ormond level crossing removal.
  • Glen Waverley – notes Glen Waverley station upgrade; Burke Road level crossing removal, 26 extra weekly services (already added)
  • Hurstbridge – notes extra services
  • Lilydale – same as Belgrave
  • Pakenham – same as Cranbourne
  • Sandringham – notes extra services
  • South Morang – notes extra trains and services. Also notes “the opening of the Epping to South Morang line extension”, a project which was funded by Labor in 2009.
  • Stony Point – notes improvements to the Frankston line “are positively impacting” the Stony Point line. Stony Point line passengers might disagree – PTV figures show line performance has taken a dive in the past few months, with many cancellations.
  • Sunbury – notes Calder Park stabling project, extra services.
  • Upfield – notes new services
  • Werribee – notes the Regional Rail Link project (mostly funded by State and Federal Labor) will help improve capacity.
  • Williamstown – We’re not sure what to make of this claim: “The $4.5bn Regional Rail Link Project and 4000 extra weekly public transports (sic) services are helping to boost capacity and reduce congestion on the Williamstown line.”

What’s missing from the Coalition’s material?

  • No mention of Southland station, promised in 2010, but construction yet to start
  • No mention of rail to Doncaster or Rowville, which were talked about in 2010, but have stalled
  • No mention of Geelong/Ballarat/Bendigo rail, which was also talked about in 2010
  • Other 2010 rail system promises not fulfilled include the promised High Speed Rail advocacy unit and Eltham North station
  • The government has also failed to order additional trams as promised in 2010, which would have helped cope with extra passenger demand generated by free CBD trams
  • No mention of the CPI plus 2.5% fare rises previously announced in December 2013 to occur four times, from January 2015 to 2018.

We’re continuing to examine transport-related claims from all parties during the election campaign, and will be issuing a policy scorecard in the coming weeks.

Victorians sold out by reckless road contract

Taxpayers on the hook for decades unless contracts annulled, says PTUA

The ‘reckless haste’ to sign East West Link contracts before November’s State election has been slammed by the Public Transport Users Association, who warned the decision could torpedo the state’s transport policy for decades.

“Premier Napthine is attempting to tie the Victorian public’s shoelaces together with this grubby deal,” said PTUA President Dr Tony Morton. “It is a time bomb that blocks necessary improvements to public transport, and local and regional roads for decades, while making congestion worse in the suburbs and providing no time savings at all beyond its first decade of operation.”

“But even worse, the government has signed up to mean and tricky guarantees in the hope it’ll scare Victorians out of defusing this time bomb after the election. We aren’t scared: we’re furious that people who voted for public transport in 2010 are now saddled with this boondoggle, that will poison decades of transport budgets if we don’t void these contracts once they’re proved illegitimate. The Premier has put the interests of the Melbourne road lobby ahead of the interests of the people of Victoria and it seems likely to cost him the election.”

The $5.3 billion contract is for ‘Stage 1’ of the Eastern Freeway extension through Fitzroy and Parkville, and excludes a previously mooted ‘Port Connection’ running parallel to CityLink. Previous incarnations of the road were ruled out by Liberal Premier Dick Hamer in the 1970s and the Northern Central City Corridor Study in 2003. Published figures indicate the return to Victorians is just 50 to 80 cents per dollar spent, and no full business case has yet been made public.

“Our biggest concern is the financial impact on all Victorians,” Dr Morton said. “The ongoing impost on the taxpayer could be around half a billion dollars every year for the next quarter century. That’s similar to what it costs to operate the entire Melbourne train system, yet we’ll all be paying that for a single road. As the late Paul Mees said, this crowds out the ability to spend any serious money on any other major transport infrastructure for decades.”

“This contract is a bucket of sand in the face for people in the west who need the Melbourne Metro tunnel, for people in the east who need Doncaster or Rowville rail, for people all over our suburbs who are sick of running one car for every adult household member while buses run once an hour, for people in regional Victoria who need their road bridges, freight railways and V/Line services fixed,” said Dr Morton. “Melbourne in future will be choked and lose its liveable city reputation, all because this government promised a Vancouver future for the city and is instead delivering a Detroit future with no mandate to do so.”

“The community will go on fighting this project,” Dr Morton said. “Labor, the Greens and independent candidates in the November election have all committed to unwind these contracts, and to take transport policy in the healthier direction that Victorians have backed in every opinion poll this century. That means bringing our train network into the 21st century, extending our tram and bus services, investing in regional roads and rail, and getting serious about walking and cycling. And most importantly, making transport planning something that the community and independent experts work on together, rather than a series of dodgy political favours for business cronies.”

This is Melbourne’s Detroit or Vancouver moment

Victorian Voters, Political Parties Face Generational Choice on Transport, says PTUA

November’s Victorian election is shaping up to be a defining moment in the State’s history when it comes to transport policy, the Public Transport Users Association said today.

“With every week the stakes become clearer for the future of Melbourne,” said PTUA President Dr Tony Morton. “Do we embrace a Detroit future by going ahead with the $18 billion East West Link? Or do we follow the example of the world’s most liveable cities, like Vancouver when 40 years ago it said no to more motorways, and invest in world-beating public transport and an efficient arterial road network?”

Freeway traffic

Dr Morton congratulated the ALP and Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews on their announcement that a future Labor Government would use the legal means at its disposal to void any East West Link contracts. “This gives real teeth to Labor’s policy opposing the East West Link and shows it’s not just a tilt to win votes,” Dr Morton said.

“The ball is now in the Napthine Government’s court,” said Dr Morton. “They know they can’t win an election on the back of the East West Link. At the very least, they should leave off signing contracts until after the Victorian people have spoken at the ballot box. But if they had some backbone, they would read the writing on the wall, and ditch this stinker of a road entirely. Then they could bring forward all the public transport projects they seem so much more keen to advertise, despite committing hardly any funds.”

Dr Morton called on all political parties to be clear on their plans for a post-East West Link transport reality. “Let’s be clear – if this doesn’t go ahead, there is already $3 billion of Victorian taxpayers’ money on the table, before looking at what happens to any Federal funds. This opens the way to some real ‘game changing’ alternatives. The Melbourne Metro tunnel for example is equivalent to three whole West Gate Bridges in carrying capacity from the western suburbs.”

“But we also need shorter-term commitments to improve transport options for people trying to get around our suburbs now,” said Dr Morton. “Level crossing grade separation will do more to relieve suburban gridlock than any new motorway will, but it’s not enough by itself to give people an alternative to sitting in traffic.”

Specific commitments sought by the PTUA for the next term of government include:

  • Closer management of the Dandenong Corridor project to prioritise the public interest, including to ensure capacity upgrades are in place (including high-capacity signalling, and duplication from Dandenong to Cranbourne) allowing an extension from Cranbourne to Clyde and a future branch to Monash University, Mulgrave and Rowville.
  • High-capacity signalling on the Clifton Hill group of rail lines to boost peak capacity, enabling extensions to Mernda and Doncaster.
  • Detailed planning (sufficient to allow commencement of construction in first term) for the first stage of the Doncaster rail extension as far as Bulleen, interchanging with upgraded DART bus services.
  • Detailed planning for the duplication of remaining single-track rail lines in the metropolitan area, such as the Altona loop.
  • Duplication and electrification of the line to Melton, following on from completion of the Regional Rail Link, including a station and feeder buses to serve Caroline Springs and Rockbank.
  • Detailed planning to accelerate the timeframe for a rail link to Melbourne Airport.
  • Continued upgrade of train services to every ten minutes, 7 days-a-week, to cut waiting times and give Melbourne a proper, high-frequency metro rail system.
  • Continued rollout of Smartbus services and improvements to frequency, directness and coordination of suburban buses, the process being led by PTV with full public participation.
  • Planning for short extensions of the tram network to fill obvious gaps where routes stop short of railway stations or key trip generators.
  • Targeted improvement of suburban arterial roads as multimodal corridors for cars, buses, trams, trucks, bicycles and pedestrians, and incorporating signal priority for buses and trams, in line with the Smartroads strategy.
  • Improvements to regional train and coach services, including planning for revival of services to Mildura, from Geelong to Ballarat and from Maryborough to Castlemaine.
  • A public inquiry into transport infrastructure capital costs to identify savings and efficiencies and ensure Victorians receive value for money in transport construction projects.

“We have the chance now to solve Melbourne’s traffic woes,” Dr Morton said. “No city in the world has managed to ‘solve’ traffic congestion by building new roads. The only way you do it is the way Vancouver did, by investing in the alternatives, and prioritising strategic uses such as freight on the existing road network.”

“It actually takes less time to travel to work in Vancouver than it did 20 years ago,” concluded Dr Morton. “We don’t know of any other city that can make that claim.”

Open letter to Premier Napthine reminds Coalition of their promise to fix public transport not build East-West toll road

The Public Transport Users Association today published an open letter to Premier Napthine in the Herald Sun reminding the Government of their promise to fix public transport rather than build the East-West toll road.

“With our public transport network falling apart, Victorians are shocked that the Government is prioritising this half-baked toll road project without a public business case rather than fix public transport as they promised,” Dr Tony Morton, President of the Public Transport Users Association, said.

Crowded train

The letter, signed by more than 200 Victorians including the Mayors of four local Councils demonstrates that the community opposition to this road is not only sophisticated by well resourced.

“Without an opportunity to vote on this project, Victorians are using other avenues to have their voices heard,” Dr Morton said. “People from across Victoria are getting active on this issue because everyone has so much to loose if this toll road gets built,” said Dr Morton.

“This project is being hastily brought forward despite recommendations that further planning is required and despite the fact that Victorians have not had a chance to vote on this project,” said Dr Morton. “Napthine might think it is OK to approve an $18 billion project despite plans not even being finalised, however, Victorians do not.”

“When it comes to the primary question of whether this toll road is the number one transport priority for Victoria – the answer is a resounding ‘No’,” Dr Morton said.
Continue reading Open letter to Premier Napthine reminds Coalition of their promise to fix public transport not build East-West toll road