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A major shutdown of the southern part of the Frankston line for level crossing works started on 31st January, and was meant to finish about a week later at the end of Sunday 7th February.
It was not to be. On Sunday afternoon, a delay was announced. They said works (and buses) would continue until the end of Monday.
Frankston/Stony Point Lines: Buses will continue to replace trains Mordialloc-Frankston/Stony Point on Monday 8 February. Plan your journey at https://t.co/e4hxuMtCIa or call 1800 800 007. pic.twitter.com/w5NbJj1q4C— Metro Trains (@metrotrains) February 7, 2021
On Monday they announced that works would continue until the end of Tuesday:
Frankston/Stony Point lines: Buses continue to replace trains Mordialloc – Frankston/Stony Point until last train Tue 9 Feb, due to issues with old signalling equipment encountered during @levelcrossings works.
And on Tuesday afternoon… they announced that works would continue to the end of… Sunday – merging with an already-planned shutdown scheduled for the weekend.
Good afternoon! Works and replacement buses on the Frankston line will run until the end of S̶̷u̶̷n̶̷d̶̷a̶̷y̶̷ M̶̷o̶̷n̶̷d̶̷a̶̷y̶̷ T̶̷u̶̷e̶̷s̶̷d̶̷a̶̷y̶̷ SUNDAY. So, completion a full week late. #FKNLine pic.twitter.com/orHwle3Ing— Daniel Bowen (@danielbowen) February 9, 2021
I guess we’ll see in a few days if the works are completed and the trains do indeed come back next Monday – a full week later than first planned.
This is by no means the first time this has happened.
A few years ago a shutdown at St Albans/Ginifer ran late, with repeated delays.
But more recently in December 2020, a shutdown of the Werribee line also ran well over time. Like the current Frankston line shutdown, it too was originally meant to run for about a week.
Werribee line: Buses replace trains on sections of the Werribee line from 8:30pm Sun 29 Nov to last train Sun 6 Dec, while @levelcrossings works take place.
An incident on the 4th of December put paid to that: a freight train rolled through the Cherry Street crossing with the boom gates up (open), narrowly missing several cars. It’s being investigated, but it sounds like it was a minor miracle that nobody was hit.
Marcus Wong tracked the ensuing chaos – authorities extended the shutdown for a week… and then for another two weeks, eventually finishing after Christmas. So what should have been a one week shutdown ran for four weeks.
Werribee line: Buses replace trains on sections of the Werribee line from 9pm Sun 29 Nov to last train Sun 27 Dec, while @levelcrossings works take place.
Buses continue to replace trains due to an ongoing equipment fault.
The silver lining is that right now, ridership is low, so fewer people are affected. But that won’t last. Patronage is growing each week.
I’ve mostly quoted Metro’s tweets here, but it’s not actually down to them. These issues are related to infrastructure projects managed by the Level Crossing Removal Program.
Big rail projects like these often involve unexpected issues – be it unmapped infrastructure under the ground. In both these cases it appears to relate to unexpected complexity with replacing (or reinstating) ancient complicated legacy signalling systems.
But repeated shutdowns running a week or more over time seems to indicate they need to do much better at their project resourcing – and their planning.
This article first appeared on www.danielbowen.com
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