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My personal opinion is that automation does not necessarily deliver on its promises, in that it is usually very expensive, requires a lot of maintenance , and usually , though not always , a failure can shut down a significant length of route. Additionally , a lot of modern equipment only lasts 20 years and spares production can end before the 20 years is up . Compare that to mechanical and early electrical systems whose lifespan frequently exceeded 60 + years .
In relation to Melbourne Suburban , in my view an upgrade using additional trains of existing design , either Xtrapolis or Networker is preferred to buying a third new train with all new equipment . The new train option just increases overall costs and for a very marginal benefit.
In relation to the Pakenham corridor , the existing track circuits were designed to take additional signals to reduce headways , therefore upgrading the existing track circuitry and adding additional signals would , in my view , be better value for money than what is now being implemented.
I also think that the idea of having only two control motors ( M cars ) per 6 car set has merit due to the fact that 6 car sets are now only split for maintenance . Further on from that increased capacity with a nine car Xtrapolis or Networker therefore also makes sense , though the existing track circuiting in some locations may not be able to cope with the additional 3 car add on .
Best wishes and regards,
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