Belair line new timetable

 
  Mark Parnell MLC Station Staff

The relevant thread dealing with the changes to the Belair line looks to have de-railed, but I do want to ask some questions.

Earlier this week, I met with Minister Chloe Fox's Chief of Staff and Emma Thomas, who is Rail Commissioner and and Deputy CEO of DPTI.  I wanted to know their thinking behind the new "temporary" Belair timetable that sees peak hour services to and from Belair, Pinera & Glenalta reduced to a 30 minute service.

The answer was that they were committed to a 15 minute peak frequency and that the only way to do this was to provide less services to the 3 stations at the end of the line due to single track running.  In other words, it is impossible to sustain a 15 minute frequency if those stations are included.  

However, I’m sure it can be done.  It only takes 6 mins for a train to get from Blackwood to Belair.  I know that the idea of a short shuttle service between Belair & Blackwood was considered and rejected.  I don't think it would have been popular in any event.

I'm getting lots of emails from Mitcham Hills residents unhappy with the current plans. Because the "temporary" timetable will have to be revised when the new Wayville Station opens for business, now is the time to tweak services to best serve as many passengers as we can. We don't want to sacrifice the improvement to peak services from Blackwood to the City, but if tweaking a minute or two here and there would help the last 3 stations, it might be worth it.  

I'm interested in any suggestions from people on this forum as to how to deliver more frequent services on the whole line.  I'll track replies, but equally happy for people to email me direct to parnell@parliament.sa.gov.au.  

Mark Parnell MLC, Parliamentary leader, Greens SA

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  Seldom_21 Junior Train Controller

Location: South Australia
G'day Mark,

I think what really needs to be looked at is the demand for a 15 minute peak service. Prior to the closure of the line, I was caught between the 4:12 or the 4:42, a pain at times to wait, but nonetheless a service where I, amongst with nearly all the other passengers had a seat. Without thoroughly looking through the timetable, one concern that comes to mind is the delays that are brought about by delayed services, thus meaning other up-track services would have to wait at Sleeps Hill for that train to pass. Furthermore, 15 minute services will result in more boom gate activity around roads that are already congested in peak times with high density traffic. As a passenger who alights at Blackwood, the queries and concerns raised by Mitcham Hills residents living further up the line does not really affect me, however, I can understand their frustration of knowing there is a train available but one which would not take them all the way home. Obviously the geographical elements of the line makes duplicating the line to have a broad gauge track parallel would cost a significant amount of money and time. Therefore, my primary proposal to the Minister would be to either re-evaluate the 15 minute service, and perhaps extend it out to 20-25 mins or provide a loop bus for passengers wishing to alight at the final three stations. Neither option would be preferable for the Minister nor Ms Thomas, another reason why the Labor Government in conjunction with their respective executive government bodies appear pathologically incapable to think logically with regards to "fixing" problems with public transport in this State.

just my 2 cents
Seldom
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

Sorry to say Mark, I agree with the temporary timetable's arrangements to sacrifice a small amount of service for a couple of stations so that a higher frequency service can be introduced on most of the line.

15 minutes is not enough time for the train to get from Blackwood to Belair and back. The train needs to do the journey there, wait while the driver changes cabs and gets it set up to return (an extra two minutes) and then do the return journey in time to be in the Blackwood platform before the next train from the city arrives. There's no margin in there to allow lost time to be regained, a single passenger with a bike or a wheelchair would have the potential to cause a chain reaction of delays affecting the whole peak period.

It might be able to be done if every train (not just the 'extra' Blackwood terminating services) ran express from Blackwood to Belair to save a couple of minutes each way, but serving only one of the three stations would defeat the purpose of running on that section.

I think the best solution to improve service to the section between Blackwood and Belair would be an additional "197" peak bus route from the Mitcham Station car park, running express up Belair Road to Belair Triangle then all stops along Main Road to Blackwood Station. This option would have the following benefits:
  • Faster than the train. This is due to the alignment of the railway line around Eden Hills and Bellevue Heights being so circuitous that I can beat the train cycling on even my decrepit steel-framed mountain bike, let alone on my aluminium-carbon road bike.
  • The benefit of the bus over the Mitcham-Belair section could be enjoyed without the detriment of the congested parts of Belair Road and Unley Road.
  • Using the car park at Mitcham Station instead of stopping out by the road would allow a convenient interchange. This could be enhanced
  • Shorter door-to-door journey times for commuters who have a bus stop closer than the nearest train station.
  • Introduction of a service within walking distance for commuters in the area of Blackwood to the west of Main Road. Did you know that the stops along Main Road between the centre of Blackwood and the junction with Laffer Drive receive only two buses each day, only on school days, only in the morning, only in the northern direction and only going via Fullarton Road?
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

Justapax sums up the probable difficulties of a 15 minute service between Blackwood and Belair quite well.

If trains did their turn back in the now disused stabling yard one train could run though to the stabling siding for the driver's end to end change while the train already held in the other stabling siding could run out onto the platform and return to Adelaide. A couple of minutes could be saved but even that may not be enough to ensure reliability.

Compared with Blackwood, Coromandel and Eden Hills how much traffic do Belair, Pinera and Glenalta generate?

Better to serve some people well than try and serve everybody and fail.

Justpax's bus idea sounds productive.

Ian
  Mark Parnell MLC Station Staff

G'day Mark,

I think what really needs to be looked at is the demand for a 15 minute peak service. Prior to the closure of the line, I was caught between the 4:12 or the 4:42, a pain at times to wait, but nonetheless a service where I, amongst with nearly all the other passengers had a seat. Without thoroughly looking through the timetable, one concern that comes to mind is the delays that are brought about by delayed services, thus meaning other up-track services would have to wait at Sleeps Hill for that train to pass. Furthermore, 15 minute services will result in more boom gate activity around roads that are already congested in peak times with high density traffic. As a passenger who alights at Blackwood, the queries and concerns raised by Mitcham Hills residents living further up the line does not really affect me, however, I can understand their frustration of knowing there is a train available but one which would not take them all the way home. Obviously the geographical elements of the line makes duplicating the line to have a broad gauge track parallel would cost a significant amount of money and time. Therefore, my primary proposal to the Minister would be to either re-evaluate the 15 minute service, and perhaps extend it out to 20-25 mins or provide a loop bus for passengers wishing to alight at the final three stations. Neither option would be preferable for the Minister nor Ms Thomas, another reason why the Labor Government in conjunction with their respective executive government bodies appear pathologically incapable to think logically with regards to "fixing" problems with public transport in this State.

just my 2 cents
Seldom
Seldom_21
Thanks Seldom.  I wouldn't want to jeopardise a more frequent peak service, but if tweaking a minute here or there fixed the Belair problem, then it should be considered.  As expected, the timetable already has some unfortunate anomolies that give lie to the "15 minute peak service" such as a 36 minute gap between services before 9am inbound. [8.36am, then 9.12am from Eden Hills]. Mark
  Mark Parnell MLC Station Staff

Sorry to say Mark, I agree with the temporary timetable's arrangements to sacrifice a small amount of service for a couple of stations so that a higher frequency service can be introduced on most of the line.

15 minutes is not enough time for the train to get from Blackwood to Belair and back. The train needs to do the journey there, wait while the driver changes cabs and gets it set up to return (an extra two minutes) and then do the return journey in time to be in the Blackwood platform before the next train from the city arrives. There's no margin in there to allow lost time to be regained, a single passenger with a bike or a wheelchair would have the potential to cause a chain reaction of delays affecting the whole peak period.

It might be able to be done if every train (not just the 'extra' Blackwood terminating services) ran express from Blackwood to Belair to save a couple of minutes each way, but serving only one of the three stations would defeat the purpose of running on that section.

I think the best solution to improve service to the section between Blackwood and Belair would be an additional "197" peak bus route from the Mitcham Station car park, running express up Belair Road to Belair Triangle then all stops along Main Road to Blackwood Station. This option would have the following benefits:
  • Faster than the train. This is due to the alignment of the railway line around Eden Hills and Bellevue Heights being so circuitous that I can beat the train cycling on even my decrepit steel-framed mountain bike, let alone on my aluminium-carbon road bike.
  • The benefit of the bus over the Mitcham-Belair section could be enjoyed without the detriment of the congested parts of Belair Road and Unley Road.
  • Using the car park at Mitcham Station instead of stopping out by the road would allow a convenient interchange. This could be enhanced
  • Shorter door-to-door journey times for commuters who have a bus stop closer than the nearest train station.
  • Introduction of a service within walking distance for commuters in the area of Blackwood to the west of Main Road. Did you know that the stops along Main Road between the centre of Blackwood and the junction with Laffer Drive receive only two buses each day, only on school days, only in the morning, only in the northern direction and only going via Fullarton Road?
justapassenger
Thanks.  Yes, there were already people swapping to bus services at Mitcham for the reasons you state.  These are the same folk who like the B1 substitute bus, especially those who work near Victoria Square rather than near North Terrace.  I'll certainly put the 197 idea to the Minister.
  Mark Parnell MLC Station Staff

Justapax sums up the probable difficulties of a 15 minute service between Blackwood and Belair quite well.

If trains did their turn back in the now disused stabling yard one train could run though to the stabling siding for the driver's end to end change while the train already held in the other stabling siding could run out onto the platform and return to Adelaide. A couple of minutes could be saved but even that may not be enough to ensure reliability.

Compared with Blackwood, Coromandel and Eden Hills how much traffic do Belair, Pinera and Glenalta generate?

Better to serve some people well than try and serve everybody and fail.

Justpax's bus idea sounds productive.

Ian
steam4ian
Thanks Ian.  Yes, they are lower patronage stations.  I'll get the figures, but from memory the busiest stations are Coromandel & Eden Hills, then Blackwood.  BTW, there's a clergyman who lives near Glenalta and he's happy he can now get to Church on a Sunday morning by train since they've merged the Saturday and Sunday timetable.  So there's one happy camper.
  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
Mark, an hourly service nights and weekends isn't a service.     Half hourly would be much better.
  Seldom_21 Junior Train Controller

Location: South Australia
I think the earlier point raised about weekend services is certainly an issue that needs to be addressed in the new timetabling.

Anyway, Monday's the day, so I think a lot of us will be looking forward to the train returning. I am also aware of the pressure you have put on the Government, if there is one good thing about minority parties, they do "keep the bastards honest". Furthermore, the information you have relayed to a select group via email has been good to see what is going on.
  4BJ Chief Commissioner

Location: Backside trackside at Hawthorn near Mitcham
Dear Mr Parnell

I have done an analysis of the temporary Belair timetable that is expected to start on 14 July 2013 and I have found that the train services terminating at Blackwood cannot continue to Belair because in order to do so they will need to pass trains going the other way in the vicinity of Pinera and that, at the time of writing this post, cannot happen.

I am guessing that the appropriate Powers That Be will using the Blackwood services in the temporary timetable in order to ascertain if such services should be included in the "permanent" timetable.  We will have to wait and see.
  1S47 Assistant Commissioner

Location: On the Down Fast
One prediction I’ll make about the temporary timetable is there will be a big problem with delays and late running in peak hours.  Reason is that the Belair line is re-opening with the new Millswood crossing loop not activated.  That means a long single line stretch between the Keswick bridge (north of Wayville station) and Mitcham.  
There are two station stops on the single line section (Goodwood and Unley Park) and presumably some severe speed restrictions in place around the Wayville station and Goodwood underpass construction sites.   The “old” Belair timetable, pre-construction, allowed 8 minutes for the Keswick  - Mitcham section (with stops at GW & UP).  This might theoretically just about allow a 15 minute peak hour frequency.  But in reality any small delays due to late arrival at Mitcham or Wayville, slow passenger loading (e.g. a wheelchair passenger), or the speed restrictions will snowball with no opportunity to recover, at least until after the peak hour when 30 minute frequency resumes.
This situation could certainly be helped by having the Millswood loop operational and the ability to cross trains there.
If you’re a Belair line passenger, don’t make any plans depending on a punctual arrival of your train!
  defman70 Train Controller

Justapax sums up the probable difficulties of a 15 minute service between Blackwood and Belair quite well.

If trains did their turn back in the now disused stabling yard one train could run though to the stabling siding for the driver's end to end change while the train already held in the other stabling siding could run out onto the platform and return to Adelaide. A couple of minutes could be saved but even that may not be enough to ensure reliability.

Compared with Blackwood, Coromandel and Eden Hills how much traffic do Belair, Pinera and Glenalta generate?

Better to serve some people well than try and serve everybody and fail.

Justpax's bus idea sounds productive.

Ian
"steam4ian"


I'm a driver, and I think I stick with the bus idea. Having two trains stuffing around in Belair yard would not save any time at all, in fact it would be slower than us changing ends. you have to wait for signal 'time outs' and points and signals to move... Not worth it.
In my humble opinion, by the time we reach Blackwood, we've off loaded the majority of the customers. Pinera is used regularly on the weekends for the mountain bike traffic and during the week for St Johns school traffic, but otherwise lightly patronised.
I almost wouldn't be surprised if the line is brought back to Blackwood..............
  AFULE Chief Train Controller

Location: South Australia
I'm a driver, and I think I stick with the bus idea. Having two trains stuffing around in Belair yard would not save any time at all, in fact it would be slower than us changing ends. you have to wait for signal 'time outs' and points and signals to move... Not worth it.
In my humble opinion, by the time we reach Blackwood, we've off loaded the majority of the customers. Pinera is used regularly on the weekends for the mountain bike traffic and during the week for St Johns school traffic, but otherwise lightly patronised.
I almost wouldn't be surprised if the line is brought back to Blackwood..............
defman70
There is no reason in the world to bring the line back to Blackwood, nor should there be.
  defman70 Train Controller

There is no reason in the world to bring the line back to Blackwood, nor should there be.
"AFULE"


Just my opinion... Based on the amount of times I've heard that exact comment... And voila!... The change happens! I'm sure they said it about Bridgewater once upon a time.....
  mm42 Chief Train Controller

Would it be feasible to turn the current Blackwood services around at Pinera ? This may be feasible within the 15 minutes.  Belair itself has much of its catchment area in National Park, so it's a very lightly used station.  The 197 bus suggestion above would only service Glenalta and Pinera, and not Belair.  While it would require one extra train over terminating at Blackwood, patrons from Glenalta and Pinear would have a consistency of service.  A Pinera termination could require a signalling upgrade with more intermediate sections, because the Blackwood-Belair sector is probably a single block at present.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Before we worry too much about timetabled running, how's about we worry about timetabled opening of the line...
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
Before we worry too much about timetabled running, how's about we worry about timetabled opening of the line...
Aaron
Good Point Aaron.
  crisis Beginner

Saturday 13th testing of Belair line signalling with a 6 car 2000 consist.

  kipioneer Chief Commissioner

Location: Aberfoyle Park
Saturday's the day for resumption of services according to the ABC News at 3:30pm.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

It takes a whole week of "engineers working around the clock" (source: Adelaide Metro website) to fix a single rail signal? Sounds pretty amateur.
  62430 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Metro Adelaide
It takes a whole week of "engineers working around the clock" (source: Adelaide Metro website) to fix a single rail signal? Sounds pretty amateur.
justapassenger
If you replace "a single rail signal" with "the interlocking controlling a single rail signal" it doesn't sound so amateur.
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

Long may "Commuters Mike and Ella Tyler" wait at that platform.
  trainlover Assistant Commissioner

Location: Adelaide.
3100 railcars out running test runs on Thursday morning.
  SAR520SMBH Junior Train Controller

Have seen plenty of 3100s running in and out of ARS for Belair line testing.
Looks like they're running up and down movements together to simulate peak running at the moment.

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