Category Archives: Melbourne east

Eastern Freeway rail corridor is what merits protection

Protect Hamer legacy of provision for rail in freeway median: PTUA

According to the Public Transport Users Association there is only one aspect of the Eastern Freeway that merits heritage protection, and that is the unique design features included by the Hamer Government to ensure a train line could be easily installed in the corridor.

The statements come in response to a proposal by the Victorian Department of Transport to seek heritage protection for the section of the freeway between Hoddle Street and Bulleen Road. This part of the road was built in the 1970s and made provision for a planned train line to Doncaster and Templestowe. [1]

Responding to the largely cynical reaction to the proposal, PTUA President Dr Tony Morton noted there was some substance to the Department’s claims. “This section of road certainly has some unique features to its construction. The median reserve is particularly wide by comparison with others, including more recent sections of the Eastern Freeway, and all the overpasses are built as long single spans. But all these features were included so as to protect a reservation for rail.”

The ability to provide for rail was essential to any heritage claim for the road, Dr Morton said.

“That does make the latest proposal rather bizarre in the context of the North East Link. Not because it forecloses anything in the future, but because the Department is seeking to protect exactly what it’s about to destroy.”

As part of plans for the North East Link, the government proposes taking the median reserve for extra car lanes, and providing dedicated bus lanes on the road’s edge at additional cost. “This makes a travesty of a half-century of planning,” said Dr Morton. “The idea of protecting the reserve is that the effort and cost for a public transport corridor has already been invested, to make future rail construction an easier decision. As far as Bulleen at any rate, everything has been done already except physically laying the tracks.”

“In a city of five million people and growing, we’ve got to be protecting all opportunities that exist to boost the most space-efficient and high-capacity mode of transport we have, which is suburban rail. Instead, we’re taking a corridor already provided and handing it over to the least space-efficient form of transport, for reasons that are entirely unclear – the inner city has no more capacity to absorb cars and trucks.”

“If the Andrews Government has any consistency they would rethink now and protect the rail corridor.”

Dr Morton also scoffed at the suggestion the heritage proposal was solely aimed at forestalling a future East West Link road. “The one thing that ought to stand firmly in the way of the East West Link is it doesn’t provide any economic benefit exceeding the huge cost of construction – even when assessed on traditional tools that experts criticise as exaggerating the benefits of new roads. A heritage order by itself would never stop a project that stands up on its merits.”

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[1] The Doncaster rail line is still shown on Public Transport Victoria’s website as part of their Network Development Plan (PDF filename indicates it was updated in 2016)

North East Link plans to kill off Doncaster rail forever

The Public Transport Users Association says that detailed design plans for the North East Link and its accompanying busway include taking over the median reserve for additional car lanes. This will ‘kill stone dead’ any long term plan for trains to run to Doncaster, according to the PTUA.

“What’s being proposed is a radical reorganisation of the road corridor between Clifton Hill and Bulleen,” said PTUA President Dr Tony Morton. “The wide median which has been set aside for a train line since the 1970s will be deleted and used for car lanes. This provides space for the bus lanes they want to put on the outside of the road – but the outside will never be suitable for rail due to conflict with entrance and exit ramps.”

The plan to remove the median appears in the map book accompanying the North East Link Detail Design. It adds to previously announced plans for a 16-lane road monster between Bulleen and Doncaster, resembling the superhighways seen in some US cities like Los Angeles or Houston.

Dr Morton said the plan to kill Doncaster rail not only ran contrary to the public’s clearly expressed preference – it also promised nightmarish consequences for the Doncaster region in the long term. “Rail is ultimately the only game in town when it comes to moving large numbers of people around a big city effectively,” he said. “Even the proposed buses won’t be future-proof, and will in time become slow and crowded just like the busway services in Brisbane today. Premier Andrews and his Roads Minister are essentially foreclosing the most space-efficient mode of transport for the least space-efficient. That’s not merely short-sighted, it’s bordering on spite for the people of Manningham who spent years campaigning for a train.”

The PTUA hears daily from bus users in the north east who suffer overcrowded, late, cancelled and defective services, Dr Morton said. “The Department of Transport signed a supposedly ‘innovative’ contract with private operator Transdev, which it appears leaves it powerless to enforce basic service standards on behalf of passengers. I can confidently say no-one who uses these buses today has any confidence in government assurances that buses can do the work of trains in 30 years’ time when Melbourne is the size of London or Paris.”

Instead, Dr Morton said, residents of Manningham and other suburbs were being sentenced to a congested Los Angeles future. “So the state spends $16 billion to build this 16 lane monster, and it fills up with 16 lanes of single-occupant car traffic. What do our amazing planners do then? The Americans have freeways 24 lanes wide and they’re still clogged. Freight can’t go anywhere because it’s stuck with all the cars. You don’t solve anyone’s transport problems – passengers or freight – until you give people real choices. And ultimately, in a city the size of Melbourne, that means rail.”

The PTUA has called on the government to publish the multimodal transport plan for Victoria required by its own legislation. “Let’s have it out in the open whether our government is softening us up to turn Melbourne into LA, when the long-expressed community view is we should be more like Vancouver or Vienna, with a strong role for public and active transport, especially rail, even though a lot of people will still drive cars.”

Eastern Freeway now vs planned

See also: The Age: Toll road to kill off future Doncaster rail: public transport group

Care urged on Rowville tram proposal: avoid rushing into half measures, says PTUA

The Public Transport Users Association has cautiously welcomed a proposal to develop a new tram line connecting Rowville to Caulfield railway station via Chadstone Shopping Centre. But the PTUA is concerned the project could leave the community worse off in the longer term by precluding a conventional train line along Wellington Road.

“The previous government’s network plan envisaged a regular rail link between Huntingdale and Rowville as the appropriate long term option for this corridor,” PTUA President Dr Tony Morton said on Tuesday.

“There was also a strong view on Infrastructure Victoria’s citizen jury in 2016 that this would be imperative in the next 15 years,” he said.

“We similarly believe conventional heavy rail is the only option in the longer term if we’re to see any significant mode shift to public transport to deal with our traffic problems. It’s difficult to see any other option providing a competitive travel time for longer journeys.”

The proposed line will run parallel to the Dandenong train line between Caulfield and Oakleigh before heading east. It will not include the existing interchange at Huntingdale station.

“There are some advantages to this proposal, especially for local travel,” Dr Morton said. “With a tram, you can have stops both at the University and at the Synchrotron up the road, but you probably wouldn’t get a train to stop at both. And it certainly delivers on the need for an improved public transport connection to Chadstone.”

“At the same time, the key risks for the project are speed and interchange capacity. Without serious attention to traffic priority, it’s not going to hold a candle to train travel as soon as you’re going more than a few stops. And the interchange at Caulfield needs to cater for potentially hundreds of people at a time without getting stuck in queues – our system’s historically been quite bad at this kind of thing.”

At present, a journey from Monash University bus interchange to Flinders Street Station can be done in 40 minutes (10 on the 601 bus and 25 on the train, assuming an average 5 minute connection). “For a tram connecting at Caulfield to match what the bus and train can do currently, it would need to achieve a 30kph average speed – which means it has to be faster than the existing 75 tram along Burwood Highway, and even faster than the Gold Coast Light Rail which is probably best-in-class in Australia for traffic priority right now.”

“Meanwhile of course, if we ever got the train the community’s been asking for, the whole trip could be cut from 40 to 30 minutes,” Dr Morton said. “That is the longer term opportunity for the whole high-tech precinct we’d be worried about losing.”

Dr Morton said the PTUA would continue to press for an integrated long-term plan for transport in the south-east, which would need to be adequately ‘future proof’.

“We’ve seen all the reports this week that public transport is slowing down and becoming less reliable,” he said. “And that’s not only trains – trams and buses are as bad or worse. That’s a direct consequence of the State not future-proofing their transport plans – where they’ve had plans at all – and not building in adequate capacity ahead of the growth that everyone could see coming decades ago.”

Rise above doubters on Doncaster rail, says PTUA

Study author re-think on Rowville suggests way ahead on Doncaster

The Public Transport Users Association has backed a renewed push on rail service to Doncaster Hill, and called for signalling upgrade works on the Dandenong rail corridor to be expanded to include the South Morang and Hurstbridge lines.

“We’ve all heard the arguments about there being no room on the network to fit trains to Doncaster, or to Rowville for that matter,” said PTUA President Dr Tony Morton. “But these arguments are now simply out of date.”

Perth train in freeway

Previous feasibility studies for both Doncaster and Rowville rail had not anticipated capacity-boosting works such as the Cranbourne-Pakenham Rail Corridor Project, Dr Morton said.

“The high-capacity signalling to be rolled out on the Dandenong line had not been part of the scope for those studies,” he said. “But with this work now proceeding, the author of the Rowville study confirms the key capacity constraint will now be lifted.”

On 3 October, Rowville Rail Study author William McDougall told the Knox Leader that signalling upgrades as part of the project meant the Rowville extension could proceed sooner. “If the signalling added sufficient capacity to enable the Rowville trains to be added to the mix, then you could look at building Rowville before the Metro improvements,” Mr McDougall said.

“Logically, Mr McDougall’s words apply equally to Doncaster as to Rowville,” said Dr Morton. “In fact, the Clifton Hill lines are technically a lot simpler, because there are no V/Line or freight trains to worry about, and trains already have their own dedicated path through the City Loop and back out to Clifton Hill without crossing any others.”

The Clifton Hill lines were a ‘textbook case’ of where high-capacity signalling worked well, Dr Morton said. “There are quite a few options available. Even if you just overlaid new train control on the existing signals, you’d have much the same system that allows trains to run every 120 seconds on the RER line in Paris.”

“That would give you ample room to run 6 trains per hour to Doncaster as well as boosting the peak service to 11 trains each per hour on the South Morang and Hurstbridge lines, from 9 currently. And even that wouldn’t exhaust the available capacity.”

Dr Morton blamed a “timid planning mindset” for lack of progress on Doncaster rail. “Unfortunately, you’ve got a management culture here whose core mission for half a century was finding reasons not to do things. Saying that Doncaster rail depends on the Metro tunnel is a good example. The Metro tunnel doesn’t even touch the Clifton Hill tracks and won’t alter the capacity of these lines one iota, but it’s typical of the bureaucratic excuses used in the past against everything from the South Morang extension to running more trains on the Frankston line.”

“This culture can and will change,” said Dr Morton. “But it also means we shouldn’t be afraid to bring in new ideas from outside that culture, and to question advice that prevents us from building the future.”

Cost remained a key question for the Doncaster line that needed further study, Dr Morton said. “Unfortunately it’s been difficult to get reliable cost estimates for a project like this because there’s still so much confusion about the scope and objectives – even down to whether the aim is to serve a major activity centre or a car park.”

“In this situation, you do exactly what the Eastern Freeway builders did 30 years ago – you take it forward in stages,” said Dr Morton. “The first stage is the obvious one, along the purpose-built freeway median as far as Bulleen with interchange to the existing DART buses. Get that up and running while you figure out the route and funding for the second stage to Doncaster.”

The community would go on seeking commitments to Doncaster rail from all parties in November’s election, said Dr Morton. “Labor and the Greens have both committed to the most important step necessary, which is cancelling the East West Link. If the tollroad were to go ahead it could kill off Doncaster rail for ever.”

“The East West Link aside, we know there’s a feasible pathway for Doncaster rail: first the high-capacity signalling upgrade, followed by the low-cost first stage, then on to Doncaster. The question now is, how far will the politicians go with the community on this journey?”

Related media coverage:

Big win for south east, no win for west and north, masks ‘split personality’ on transport policy

The Napthine Government’s announcement of $2 billion of rail infrastructure upgrades and new trains for the Dandenong, Pakenham and Cranbourne corridors has won the strong backing of the Public Transport Users Association, who have labelled it “a template for fixing the rail network across Melbourne”.

But it is a shame the improvements are entirely confined to the South East of Melbourne, and a sign the government is handicapped by its single-minded devotion to the East West Link, the PTUA said today.

“This is a big dose of good news for transport in the south-east of Melbourne and in Gippsland,” said PTUA President Tony Morton. “It’s a major growth corridor and it will now have the room to grow with the rail service it needs.”
Continue reading Big win for south east, no win for west and north, masks ‘split personality’ on transport policy

Mandate for Doncaster rail – not the EW motorway

Build it means kill it

Train to East Doncaster

When the state Coalition promised in 2010 of Doncaster rail that “we’ll study it, then plan it and build it”, it was not clear to the listener that what the Coalition really meant was “we will kill it off forever”. All the more reason why this $8 billion road plan out of nowhere needs to be put to the people at the next election.

Tony Morton, Public Transport Users Association

published in The Age, 7/9/2013

Doncaster Rail Report is “Topsy-Turvy Planning”, says PTUA

Train to East DoncasterMaking the Doncaster rail extension conditional on undergrounding the South Morang line is unnecessary and an excuse to kill the project, the Public Transport Users Association said today.

“The government all but promised to build the Doncaster extension in 2010, but they failed to confront a bureaucracy that’s too fond of making excuses to do nothing,” said PTUA President Tony Morton.

The study report released today recommends a route following the Eastern Freeway median, in accordance with the ‘Option 1’ route identified in 2012. However, it suggests terminating the line at the Doncaster Park and Ride car park, short of the major and growing activity centre at Doncaster Hill.

“They are actually proposing running a train line to a car park,” Dr Morton said. “This is not how you plan a major public transport corridor. It was always intended the line would serve the major activity centre at Doncaster Hill, and not just be a single-purpose commuter service for CBD office workers.”
Continue reading Doncaster Rail Report is “Topsy-Turvy Planning”, says PTUA

Rowville Rail possible with Dandenong upgrade, no Metro tunnel

Get cracking on Dandenong line upgrade, but Metro tunnel a distraction: PTUA

Signalling upgrades and grade separations on the Dandenong line should proceed immediately to boost service to growth suburbs and enable the Rowville rail extension. But claims that the Melbourne Metro tunnel from Footscray to South Yarra is a prerequisite to Rowville rail are “arrant nonsense”, the Public Transport Users Association said today.

“The most important fact revealed in today’s final study report is that Rowville rail is feasible,” said PTUA President Tony Morton. “But the next most significant is that in the ‘fully developed’ scenario, there would be 24 trains per hour on the Dandenong line. This number of trains can already fit into the existing network, provided we upgrade the infrastructure and signalling on the Dandenong line to match what we already have on the line to Ringwood or Clifton Hill.”
Continue reading Rowville Rail possible with Dandenong upgrade, no Metro tunnel

Support Doncaster rail – attend a community workshop

_MG_9865The Victorian government is undertaking a study to provide a train service between Doncaster and the Melbourne CBD. The PTUA strongly supports a rail service to Doncaster as a vital link in Melbourne’s public transport network.

We encourage you to attend one of the community workshops organised by the Doncaster Rail Study Team. The purpose of these workshops is to explain how the options are being developed and assessed, and to gain community input on key
issues and opportunities emerging from the initial assessment.

The workshops are in Richmond (26th March), North Balwyn (28th March) and Doncaster (29th March). For full details click here.

Check the three “corridor options” (possible routes) released by the Doncaster Rail study.

You can also read more about the Doncaster rail line in the PTUA’s brochure (PDF, 673Kb)

Badly advised

THE idea that the Rowville line can’t be built without a $5 billion metro tunnel is nonsense (”Monash Uni train line plan derailed”, The Age, 9/3). The line was included in the 1969 transport plan, which gave us the City Loop, but did not say an extra tunnel from South Yarra was required: only some lesser upgrades at a fraction of the cost. It also suggested the Dandenong line would have 24 peak-hour services in 1985. Today it has 16, including two V/Line trains.
Continue reading Badly advised