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Melbourne’s rail network needs a timetable shake up to avoid cramped and unsafe peak-hour conditions during the coronavirus restrictions, transport advocates have warned.
Analysis by the Public Transport Users Association shows availability of trains across the city falls by up to two thirds once peak hour ends, leaving fewer options for travel outside of the morning and afternoon rush.
It comes after the Andrews Government announced that rising patronage was making it harder to maintain social distancing and that passenger numbers had risen past the key threshold of 15 per cent of normal levels.
The PTUA has urged for a redesign the current timetable to let Melburnians move around outside of the peak and keep safety restrictions enforced.
Flinders Street Station during a typical peak hour.Spokesman Daniel Bowen said it was vital to spread demand throughout the day by making more trains available during these times.
“It’s clear that we can’t return to the usual peak loads, with rampant overcrowding on trains, trams and buses,” he said.
“We don’t want a situation like Adelaide, where passengers are unable to maintain social distancing.
“It makes sense to encourage staggered working hours, with people travelling at different times – but this won’t help if public transport frequency and capacity is not boosted to enable it.”
Empty train stations have become a common sight. Picture: David CroslingOutside of the peak, the PTUA found the number of trains running each hour fell by 66 per cent on the Craigieburn, Hurstbridge, Mernda and Sunbury lines.
Mr Bowen said the services plummeted across Melbourne during these parts of the day.
“This means that on some lines, off-peak trains can be as crowded as peak hour.” he said.
“The public transport network is key to Melbourne’s economic recovery from this crisis.
“But it must be run in a way that ensures passengers and staff are as safe as possible.”
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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