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A GLIMPSE of what Melbourne's train timetable could look like 10 years from now has emerged from a government study into building a new rail line to Monash University and Rowville.
It reveals a plan to run trains as often as every four to five minutes in rush hour on some metro lines, and once every 10 minutes outside the peak.
The three-page ''train service plan'' for the year 2021 was published as an appendix to the lengthy government-commissioned Rowville Rail Study. It also gives an early peek at projected increases to V/Line trains to Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo once the $5 billion regional rail link opens in 2016.
The future timetable plan was uncovered by the Public Transport Users Association, which welcomed the projected boost to services but questioned why the plan was buried deep within a voluminous report.
''If implemented, this will make a huge difference to travel around Melbourne, making it easier to get around much of the city without long waits or relying on timetables,'' association president Daniel Bowen said.
But a spokesman for Public Transport Victoria cautioned that the service plan was a draft, based on projected train patronage growth over the next decade, and did not represent any government commitment. ''The figures are indicative only and do not represent the actual planned services in each year,'' the spokesman said. ''They do not represent future commitments regarding capital spending or infrastructure works.''
The Dandenong, Frankston, Blackburn, Sydenham and Craigieburn lines do best in the plan, with between 13 and 18 rush-hour trains, and trains every 10 minutes for the rest of the day.
Less well-served are some lines with stretches of single track - including Hurstbridge, Upfield, Lilydale, Belgrave and Cranbourne lines - that can be used by only one train at a time, severely restricting the ability to run more trains.
The Upfield line will see a train once every 15 minutes in the peak under the plan, while Alamein is stuck with one every 20 minutes. Services to Werribee, Williamstown and Altona also suffer a sharp drop in frequency beyond Newport station, with a mere eight rush-hour trains projected to run to busy Werribee station, and one every 20 minutes off-peak.
The plan also projects eight rush-hour trains to Geelong, and one every 15 minutes at other times.
Metro is progressively introducing a new train timetable to Melbourne. The second stage of this starts on Sunday, when 10-minute frequencies begin on some lines on weekends.
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