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Channel 9 and The Age got hold of a previously unpublished rail plan, or at least the summary maps from it.
Age: Leaked rail plan shows few extra services for regional commuters
Channel 9: I assume the headline-writer got a little carried away. Metro 2 isn’t really a secret.
#BREAKING: Public Transport chiefs are drawing up plans for a second Metro rail tunnel and proposing big changes to the politically sensitive Frankston line. @andrew_lund is LIVE. #9News pic.twitter.com/4h6HmgpE50
— Nine News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) October 16, 2018
The staging appears to be very similar to the PTV plan release back in 2013; it’s obviously evolved over the past five years. (Let’s assume that the swap of Spotswood and Seddon is an error.)
To me it all seems reasonably sensible. Channel 9 has a good summary of the projects involved, which is well worth a read.
Here’s how things will sit when the Metro (1) tunnel opens. Dandenong and Sunbury are connected via the tunnel. Frankston takes the Caulfield Loop. Sandringham is connected through to Newport.
Also by this point, the Upfield line has been extended to Craigieburn, with Seymour/Shepparton/Albury trains using it instead of the Craigieburn line – does this mean the Albury line would be converted to broad gauge? Not sure.
By stage 4, the western portion of Metro 2 (Werribee line, Newport, Fishermans Bend, Southern Cross, Flagstaff, Parkville) is in place, as well as electrification to Melton and Wyndham Vale (planning works for these were pledged by Labor yesterday).
By this point the Frankston line has been extended to Baxter, and the Cranbourne line to Clyde. The other big change is the City Loop is re-configured to route the Frankston/Baxter line through to Craigieburn. Glen Waverley is running direct and is routed through to Upfield/Craigieburn, which has an extension to Wallan. The Airport line is in place via Sunshine, and there’s a connection from Werribee to Wyndham Vale. Laverton (Altona Loop) and Williamstown trains are disconnected from the Werribee line, and continue to run via Footscray.
Also note the annotations showing the number of peak trains. This is the catalyst for The Age’s headline. Some people on Facebook have assumed that’s an all-day frequency. It clearly isn’t — the Dandenong line is not going to have 22 trains per hour all day.
Stage 6 completes the Metro 2 tunnel, connecting Parkville to the Mernda line, which also has a branch north from Lalor to Wollert. This line is connected through to Werribee and an electrified Geelong line, with Warrnambool passengers changing at Geelong.
A big change here is the Cranbourne/Clyde and Pakenham lines have been separated. Clyde now runs via the tunnel, then via Chadstone, with a branch at Huntingdale to Monash Uni and Rowville. This obviously differs from State Labor’s view of light rail serving Caulfield/Chadstone/Rowville. Additional tracks from Huntingdale to Dandenong (where the alignment is wide) allow Pakenham and V/Line trains to run express. At the city end, Pakenham is connected through to Wyndham Vale, if I’m reading the fuzzy out-of-focus lines correctly.
There’s some final twists in the “Long term” vision.
Seymour/Shepparton/Albury trains now run via the Airport instead of via the Upfield/Wallan line. The suburban Airport line no longer connects to Sunshine, but runs direct to somewhere near South Kensington – but without any intermediate stations, which seems a waste.
Also note the City Loop configuration. It appears the Hurstbridge line would run via the Loop then out to Ringwood. By this point, no metro services would terminate in the City – they’d all be connected through to other lines.
So what’s not in here?
The Suburban Rail Loop is the obvious one. It was prepared separately from the rest of this plan before being announced last month. It does have limited interaction with the main network, particularly in the east, though there’s talk of it sharing parts of the Airport and/or RRL alignments.
The other glaring omission is the Doncaster line.
The focus for service frequencies is all based on the maximum. I know there’s good work going on to move towards frequent all-day services, and you’d hope that a full plan (with explanations for these leaked maps) would detail that.
Despite the leak, I don’t expect the full plan to be released this year. But hopefully in coming years, well after the dust from the election has settled, and the bureaucrats have had time to properly digest and incorporate the plans of their political masters.
Forward planning is vital, and the enthusiasm for rail from the politicians is very welcome — it’s vital as our city continues to grow. Let’s hope that whoever wins in November, things can move forward in a coherent, logical manner.
This article first appeared on www.danielbowen.com
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