Why are improvements to Victoria’s railways so glacial?

 
  Dissonance Station Staff

I’m asking this as a genuine question, having travelled through much of the world, and noticed how much better urban and intercity railways are in many other countries (particularly Europe and Asia). While every country has flaws in their transport system …it seems that countries like Sweden, Germany, France among many others are able to electrify most of their railways, and provide fast, efficient service at regular intervals to almost any significant town imaginable (often typically attaining speeds of 160-200km/h).

It feels like some countries see public transport as a public good and put a genuine commitment to improving their railways.

Even the U.S. arguably has a better railway system than Australia, where you can travel vast distances across the continent affordably on Amtrak, whereas Journey Beyond has become an expensive tourist operation that does not serve ordinary Australians living nearby.  

Meanwhile in Victoria none of the V/Line lines are electrified, many country towns had their rail links to Melbourne removed in the late 20th century due to Austerity measures. While there have been significant improvements to V/Line in recent years such as Regional Rail Link/Regional Fast Rail and procurement of VLocity trains, it pales in comparison to rail journey’s overseas. I feel like governments do the bare minimum to improve public transport, and even small steps like duplicating lines, improving signalling, or better timetabling could easily be done but often doesn’t happen.

There never seems to be any serious consideration to electrifying the entire V/Line network let alone just the main commuter branches like Geelong and Ballarat. There is no consideration of reopening or reintroducing regular passenger services on former lines to areas like Healesville, Horsham, Mildura, Leongatha etc. (Let alone brand new lines).

Even the ride quality on the track bed’s on Victorian rail lines are so much worse than in countries overseas - I’ve never felt my seat bump up and down as violently as I have on trains in Australia…

I think if Victoria tried it could have a functional transport system that serves its users better more like say Scandinavia so I wonder why the willpower just isn’t there?

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  justarider Chief Commissioner

Location: Released again, maybe for the last time??
Genuine answer.  Money and People. ( same thing really)

Victoria is roughly the same size as UK and Scandiavia.
6m people vs 67m and 21m

Australia is roughly he same size as Europe and USA
25m people vs 447m and 332m

It takes a LOT of people to pay for, and need, the high quality service we all want, but won't get.

cheers
John
  mejhammers1 Chief Commissioner

Location: Banned
Genuine answer.  Money and People. ( same thing really)

Victoria is roughly the same size as UK and Scandiavia.
6m people vs 67m and 21m

Australia is roughly he same size as Europe and USA
25m people vs 447m and 332m

It takes a LOT of people to pay for, and need, the high quality service we all want, but won't get.

cheers
John
justarider
It takes a LOT of people to pay for, and need, the high quality service we all want, but won't get.

And yet Victoria is going to build a Suburban Rail Loop. Which will cost $50 Billion.

Go figure.

Michael
  DirtyBallast Chief Commissioner

Location: Standing at the limit of an endless ocean
Genuine answer.  Money and People. ( same thing really)

Victoria is roughly the same size as UK and Scandiavia.
6m people vs 67m and 21m

Australia is roughly he same size as Europe and USA
25m people vs 447m and 332m

It takes a LOT of people to pay for, and need, the high quality service we all want, but won't get.

cheers
John
justarider
Hear hear. To add, the population of Victoria mainly consists of a barely world-scale city, three large towns and a whole bunch of villages. The V-Line network provides a service to get people into the centre of the city from the towns and the villages within range. Unfortunately it also caters for commuters living in hamlets, which detracts from the overall experience (if one could call it that). The issue of what constitutes good service will always be subjective, depending on the location of the station that you catch the train from!

Much as it annoys me I don't think that the situation warrants much improvement. Bullet train from Traralgon to Southern Cross? Spare me!
  DirtyBallast Chief Commissioner

Location: Standing at the limit of an endless ocean
Genuine answer.  Money and People. ( same thing really)

Victoria is roughly the same size as UK and Scandiavia.
6m people vs 67m and 21m

Australia is roughly he same size as Europe and USA
25m people vs 447m and 332m

It takes a LOT of people to pay for, and need, the high quality service we all want, but won't get.

cheers
John
It takes a LOT of people to pay for, and need, the high quality service we all want, but won't get.

And yet Victoria is going to build a Suburban Rail Loop. Which will cost $50 Billion.

Go figure.

Michael
mejhammers1
Gonna disagree with you there.

The reason a lot of people think that our heavy rail PT is poo is because it is solely designed around getting people to and from the CBD and it doesn't adequately cater for their needs.

Building a bypass, while linking with existing lines for interchangeability, is not a bad thing in my book. The concept of a suburban rail loop is merely a catchup of metropolitan ring road. Let's analyse that - look at the massive boom in industrial development adjacent to Western Ring Rd and Eastlink since they were built. Tens of thousands of jobs, surely. Suburban rail loop would also generate development along the corridor merely from the fact that the commuters using it will be interchanging and passing through local areas. Businesses will set up to capture the increased traffic.
  Carnot Minister for Railways

Another factor is skills shortages in rail after the sector was gutted in the 1990s, IMO.

We've proven our ability to build high-quality heavy duty rail lines (including long distance 25kV AC in Bjelke-Peterson's Qld of all places) since the 1970s, but that's not Victoria...
  skitz Chief Commissioner

Regarding quality and excellence, I would suggest the culture that is Victoria is a significant factor.   Above it was mentioned about people and money being the problem, yet having seen the industry in Victoria there is no shortage of either.   To see the waste and practice of government, departments, franchises and contractors; is one big money stripping machine of the tax payer.  

Excellence has no priority when there is money to be made and egos to be grown.   Unfortunately we also see a state where minimum technical standards are also used a contractual standards.   It means that the limit of things breaking or falling off in a big heap is where the asset stands.  Its not where the asset is most cost effective and best value and actually sits where trains run for the highest inputs, inputs where those being rewarded like it to be.   Try and get this notion understood through the mire of greed, politics and egos is a hiding to nowhere.
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
Much as it annoys me I don't think that the situation warrants much improvement. Bullet train from Traralgon to Southern Cross? Spare me!
DirtyBallast
Agreed, as has been discussed many times on RP getting what we have already built working properly would go a long way towards improving the reliability and therefore the desirability of the system.

After that there are some things that need improvement but we don't need to re-invent the wheel

Reading Skitz's post after DBs just goes to highlight what many of us who actually use V/Line on a regular basis suspect - that for all the $$$ that have been thrown at the system we haven't really seen the level of return that we should have.
  Upven Junior Train Controller

Australians love the excuse of population and land mass to make up for our laziness and poor decision making. We have a very large city and a few small but growing cities. Everything is about Melbourne to our detriment. The fact you can’t go from Bendigo to Ballarat without going into Melbourne is reflective of the stupidity of Victoria. Catching the train is an inconvenience unless it’s to Melbourne. Spare me the population argument when Norway can do it better for fewer people with similar economic resources to our mineral rich nation. It’s all about our work ethic and culture, and where we want to spend our money wisely. Instead we don’t do that and it shows.

Try sending someone who lives abroad a drivers cab video of Melb to Sydney. It’s embarrassing but it’s home
  justarider Chief Commissioner

Location: Released again, maybe for the last time??
Australians love the excuse of population and land mass to make up for our laziness and poor decision making. We have a very large city and a few small but growing cities. Everything is about Melbourne to our detriment. The fact you can’t go from Bendigo to Ballarat without going into Melbourne is reflective of the stupidity of Victoria. Catching the train is an inconvenience unless it’s to Melbourne. Spare me the population argument when Norway can do it better for fewer people with similar economic resources to our mineral rich nation. It’s all about our work ethic and culture, and where we want to spend our money wisely. Instead we don’t do that and it shows.

Try sending someone who lives abroad a drivers cab video of Melb to Sydney. It’s embarrassing but it’s home
Upven
Spare me the argument about Norway.

Just like Melbourne Vic, all routes trunk through the capital Oslo. With  one other cross country diversion to Sweden.

Bodo to Oslo, 900km 17hrs. Makes the Melbourne-Sydney look positively super sonic.
( yer I know Norway has a lot of big hills and snow to contend with)
but do pax really care about it being very difficult, when just like Sydney, it's only 2hr in a plane.

And sorry to all train fans, but Vic puts more money into roads. They are bloody hard to do in Norway.

cheers
John
  Upven Junior Train Controller

Australians love the excuse of population and land mass to make up for our laziness and poor decision making. We have a very large city and a few small but growing cities. Everything is about Melbourne to our detriment. The fact you can’t go from Bendigo to Ballarat without going into Melbourne is reflective of the stupidity of Victoria. Catching the train is an inconvenience unless it’s to Melbourne. Spare me the population argument when Norway can do it better for fewer people with similar economic resources to our mineral rich nation. It’s all about our work ethic and culture, and where we want to spend our money wisely. Instead we don’t do that and it shows.

Try sending someone who lives abroad a drivers cab video of Melb to Sydney. It’s embarrassing but it’s home
Spare me the argument about Norway.

Just like Melbourne Vic, all routes trunk through the capital Oslo. With  one other cross country diversion to Sweden.

Bodo to Oslo, 900km 17hrs. Makes the Melbourne-Sydney look positively super sonic.
( yer I know Norway has a lot of big hills and snow to contend with)
but do pax really care about it being very difficult, when just like Sydney, it's only 2hr in a plane.

And sorry to all train fans, but Vic puts more money into roads. They are bloody hard to do in Norway.

cheers
John
justarider
The points gone well over your head, the condition of track, quantity of infrastructure and quality of ride is far better in a country with fewer people but similar economic conditions, cost of living, wages and HDI. If we have fewer 'obstacles' geographically to climb than we should be doing similar, no? Or did you miss the point where I noted its due to cultural attitudes like yours as to why we can't have nice things.
  tazzer96 Chief Commissioner

The main problem is the speed of the car in australia.  Outside of the major cities, it is almost always faster to either drive, or to fly than take the train.  Sydney to melbourne, brisbane to sydney, melbourne to adelaide.  All on highways in which the speed is pretty much 110 km/h the whole way.
  Lockspike Chief Commissioner

Spare me the argument about Norway.
justarider
Hard to make favourable comparisons economically between Norway and Australia with Norway's Government Pension Fund.
When Norway's oil & gas industry really took off about 1990, the country's leaders decided to retain most of the revenue in public hands. Today that fund is worth more than USD$1,000b. With that pot of cash sitting in the background, Norway can do immensely more for its citizens than Australians could dream about.
  Tii Junior Train Controller

Spare me the argument about Norway.
Hard to make favourable comparisons economically between Norway and Australia with Norway's Government Pension Fund.
When Norway's oil & gas industry really took off about 1990, the country's leaders decided to retain most of the revenue in public hands. Today that fund is worth more than USD$1,000b. With that pot of cash sitting in the background, Norway can do immensely more for its citizens than Australians could dream about.
Lockspike
Very true, all that mining wealth here hardly contributed a thing to our futures. Just for the rich.
  Heihachi_73 Chief Commissioner

Location: Terminating at Ringwood
The main problem is the speed of the car in australia.  Outside of the major cities, it is almost always faster to either drive, or to fly than take the train.  Sydney to melbourne, brisbane to sydney, melbourne to adelaide.  All on highways in which the speed is pretty much 110 km/h the whole way.
tazzer96
Hardly, speed limits in Australia are some of the slowest in the developed world, only the old American 55 mph (88 km/h) national speed limit was more laughable than a completely straight 110 km/h sealed road in the middle of nowhere, it could easily be increased to 130 without a single issue (aside from lost police revenue, and that hoons caught doing 140 won't lose their license on the spot in a 130 zone as they're only 10 km/h over). The speed limits and safety guides still seem to be based around the performance and handling characteristics of a Datsun 120Y as opposed to a 21st century car with ABS, electronic stability control, airbags, cruise control and lane departure sensors. Of course, having a head-on with another car at 130 will most likely be a death sentence for the occupants of both vehicles, but that can even apply at a measly 70 km/h too.

It's just that our trains are even slower since most of the tracks are still stuck in the 19th century, they are rarely maintained unless there's a derailment, and some were built to a tiny loading gauge which was designed for locomotives and rolling stock no bigger or heavier than Thomas the Tank Engine, it's the sole reason why we can't simply import full-size American style locos like those in the Pilbara (converting them to broad gauge is nothing) because they simply are too heavy for the shoestring rails we have (never mind a lot of sections still using jointed track instead of welded, and wooden sleepers instead of concrete or steel), and for whatever reason, we need our trains to be a foot or two narrower than usual as well. Non-upgraded branch line rails are roughly the same weight as Melbourne's T-section tram rails (e.g. Victoria Pde/Kings Way/Dandenong Rd or the 96/109 light rail). No point in having bullet trains if they're still restricted to 100 km/h because of track condition (including mud holes, or partially buckled rails following a week of 40°C heat, but not enough to cause the whole line to be shut down as they didn't turn into spaghetti), poor infrastructure (e.g. weak bridges or bad signal wiring) or anything else that can go wrong (e.g. idiots disobeying level crossings). No wonder the Melbourne-Sydney air route is so popular when there is no real alternative.
  Djebel Junior Train Controller

The main problem is the speed of the car in australia.  Outside of the major cities, it is almost always faster to either drive, or to fly than take the train.  Sydney to melbourne, brisbane to sydney, melbourne to adelaide.  All on highways in which the speed is pretty much 110 km/h the whole way.
Hardly, speed limits in Australia are some of the slowest in the developed world, only the old American 55 mph (88 km/h) national speed limit was more laughable than a completely straight 110 km/h sealed road in the middle of nowhere, it could easily be increased to 130 without a single issue (aside from lost police revenue, and that hoons caught doing 140 won't lose their license on the spot in a 130 zone as they're only 10 km/h over). The speed limits and safety guides still seem to be based around the performance and handling characteristics of a Datsun 120Y as opposed to a 21st century car with ABS, electronic stability control, airbags, cruise control and lane departure sensors. Of course, having a head-on with another car at 130 will most likely be a death sentence for the occupants of both vehicles, but that can even apply at a measly 70 km/h too.

It's just that our trains are even slower since most of the tracks are still stuck in the 19th century, they are rarely maintained unless there's a derailment, and some were built to a tiny loading gauge which was designed for locomotives and rolling stock no bigger or heavier than Thomas the Tank Engine, it's the sole reason why we can't simply import full-size American style locos like those in the Pilbara (converting them to broad gauge is nothing) because they simply are too heavy for the shoestring rails we have (never mind a lot of sections still using jointed track instead of welded, and wooden sleepers instead of concrete or steel), and for whatever reason, we need our trains to be a foot or two narrower than usual as well. Non-upgraded branch line rails are roughly the same weight as Melbourne's T-section tram rails (e.g. Victoria Pde/Kings Way/Dandenong Rd or the 96/109 light rail). No point in having bullet trains if they're still restricted to 100 km/h because of track condition (including mud holes, or partially buckled rails following a week of 40°C heat, but not enough to cause the whole line to be shut down as they didn't turn into spaghetti), poor infrastructure (e.g. weak bridges or bad signal wiring) or anything else that can go wrong (e.g. idiots disobeying level crossings). No wonder the Melbourne-Sydney air route is so popular when there is no real alternative.
Heihachi_73
The maximum allowable speed isn't high, but you can cover good distance due to there not being many towns in the way on many routes.  Especially if you're on the major highways with bypasses..

E.G.:  I want to visit my grandfather in Cobram.  45-50 minutes to SCS, then nearly 3 hours on the train to get to Shepparton, then I'd have to catch a bus to Cobram, but nowhere near where I want to go.

Or I can be there in under 3 hours door to door by driving.
  BigShunter Chief Commissioner

Location: St Clair. S.A.
Another example of the glacial rail system playing 2nd or 3rd fiddle to the road system.

I'm not against the larger trucks and improvement to highway's that will carry them but it makes you fume that the rail network is barely operating, wouldn't it be great if both were given the same attention Rolling Eyes

More than quarter of Victoria's roads can now take HPFV's

The Victorian government has revealed there's been a 400 per cent increase in applications for heavy vehicle access to the state's roads.

Regional Roads Victoria Chief Regional Roads Officer Paul Northey told a Public Accounts and Estimates Committee budget hearing road haulage accounted for about 30 per cent of all Australia's freight.

"General road freight is growing by 2.6 per cent a year, particularly for heavy vehicles," Mr Northey said.

"We have had about a 400 per cent increase in applications for heavy vehicle access, primarily driven by the huge infrastructure programs that are in progress.

"We have quite a number of different packages of work, going on at the moment, to try and help support the freight network and to HPFV's move around the state."

He said the recent state budget had set aside $41.6 million to deliver more productive road networks for freight.

In Victoria, a HPFV is a heavy vehicle combination that exceeds 26 metres and/or has a gross combination mass in excess of 68.5 tonnes.

https://www.mailtimes.com.au/story/7302480/big-build-sees-need-for-more-hpfv-routes/?cs=12

Mr Northey said a $4 million upgrade to the Henty Highway between Horsham and Lascelles would enable important grain freight to travel down from the Mallee to Portland.

How about some decent maintenance on the Portland line !

"We have a number of really important routes, in the north-west of Victoria, as well."

There are a number of very important railway lines also  !

In the last few years, he said, big grain crops meant it was essential to have upgraded routes to take freight from north to south, particularly to Portland.

So how about some F'n maintenance on the line, then !

BigShunter.
  8502 Train Controller

Emerging view of the Department of Transport recently taking control of V/Line.



Network Design and Integration clearly need a new head as they have not delivered.
  speedemon08 Mary

Location: I think by now you should have figured it out
Emerging view of the Department of Transport recently taking control of V/Line.



Network Design and Integration clearly need a new head as they have not delivered.
8502
Not delivered on what you want but they sure as hell make sure each lease operator plays ball and talks to each other with various projects.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

And yet Victoria is going to build a Suburban Rail Loop. Which will cost $50 Billion.

Go figure.

Michael
mejhammers1

Because a significant proportion of that 6 million people are serviced by the suburban rail loop is why. "People and Money" but also "votes".
  8502 Train Controller

Not delivered from a freight and track management viewpoint.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Emerging view of the Department of Transport recently taking control of V/Line.



Network Design and Integration clearly need a new head as they have not delivered.
8502
Answer to the question posed in the thread title is in the above post. Crying or Very sad
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Sad that rail freight is deliberately scuttled in Victoria and I for the record firmly believe the Murray basin work was deliberately stuffed.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
What a recent audit has found:

  Duncs Chief Commissioner

It is time for a big reality check on major projects.

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