Continuing my series of ten year old photos…
Next, perhaps the most useless Melbourne public transport map ever produced.
It doesn’t show the most well-known location, the CBD, and shows very few others. It also has numerous errors, including: Implies Sandringham is next to Clayton. Implies Glen Waverley is east of Clayton (it’s actually north). Implies Box Hill is east of Glen Waverley (it’s northwest). Implies Belgrave is next to Box Hill (it isn’t). Williamstown is actually in zone 1. Many of the others are on the zone 1/2 boundary.
Playing totem tennis in the backyard in Carnegie. (Animated GIF created by GIFmaker.me)
… You can read the full story on that here… or if you just want to know what happened:
I’m running a bit behind in my blogging due to general business.
Here are some pictures from the brand new shiny West Footscray station a few weeks ago.
The platforms seem uncluttered, and there are Passenger Information Displays (PIDs) and a clock, which are becoming the standard now for new stations:
There’s a pretty big car park, in part to make up for the parking lost at Footscray. You can also clearly see the space for the new Regional Rail Link lines which are being added:
There are bike cages as well as car parking, as well as a bike path/ramp from the concourse to the streets on either side. The main concourse/bridge over the tracks is pretty imposing, very visible from the surrounding areas.
Chris Hale from Melbourne Uni presented at the PTUA Annual General Meeting recently. He remarked that Roxburgh Park station looks like a jail.
Although I wouldn’t say it’s beautiful, happily the same can’t be said for West Footscray. At the very least, it’s more colourful, with blocks of green, and areas of wood on the ceiling (apparently to help the acoustics and reduce noise).
Looking east towards Footscray (central) through a tiny hole in the concourse wall, you can see the amount of development that’s going on there:
Minister Mulder’s decision to provide ramps as well as steps and lifts means there’s plenty of choice for getting between the concourse and the platforms. At least if the lifts break down, now there’s an accessible alternative. As you can see from the hoarding, despite having been officially opened, the work wasn’t quite complete when I went through:
All in all, not half bad for what will become a busy station as urban renewal takes hold in the area.
It’s not staffed, apart from PSOs. I would hope and assume that space was set aside for future staff facilities and toilets should they ever be needed — it appears so from the amount of closed-off space on the bridge.
One local I know seems to like it. As an occasional user of the old West Footscray station, I’d say it’s an improvement.
Hopefully future stations will continue to look less like jails and more like a welcoming spot to catch a train.
- Related: Lynbrook station design
Update 6/12/2013: I’m told one other feature of the new West Footscray is that it has solar PV panels on the roof; enough for all the station’s power needs.
On the road to Rutherglen a few weeks ago, we came across this: the old railway. Some photos below.
Apparently it opened in 1879, with passenger trains running until 1962, and freight trains until 1995. These days the nearest operating railway is at Springhurst a few kilometres away, on the main line to Albury and Sydney.
If you take a look at Andrew Waugh’s excellent VRHistory web site, you’ll see maps that show just how extensive the Victorian Railways were. By 1940, the network reached most populated parts of the state, before it contracted in the decades following.
By the way, it’s notable that some argue that not only should the South Morang line be extended to Mernda, but also another 10 kilometres to Whittlesea where it used to run. I’m not convinced. Just because there used to be a line to Whittlesea doesn’t automatically mean it should be rebuilt. The Urban Growth Boundary doesn’t extend out that far. Serving the population, not empty fields, is the priority for public transport upgrades.
I spotted this a while back, but forgot to blog it. It was published by the ABS in October 2012, but it’s still worth noting:
“While the household car is still the preferred method of travel to work for most Australians, the train has overtaken walking as one of the most preferred modes of transport,” Mr Henderson said.
“The proportion of people opting to take the train has increased from 3.4 per cent in 2006 to 3.9 per cent in 2011, putting the train in the top three methods of travel to work.”
Trains being in the top three is pretty amazing given that while walking and driving are more-or-less universally available in every area in Australia (the latter subject to income and ability), travel to work by train is confined to a much smaller proportion of the population.
Of course, driving still dominates because most people have no viable choice — as I’ve said before, if we want more people to choose efficient modes, they have to be given the choice… which, remember, is the sort of investment that what most people want.
Car (driver) 60.2%
Car (passenger) 5.3%
News from London is that they are planning 24-hour Tube services on five lines from 2015 at weekends.
It’s tied to a grand plan which will also see staff taken out of ticket offices (in favour of helping customers more directly, for instance with ticket machines), more Wifi on stations, and contactless bank card (eg Paypass) payments.
All interesting, but let’s focus on the all-night trains.
Running all-night services on weekends only is an interesting balance between meeting big city passenger demand, helping late-night economic growth, and still allowing time for maintenance — which can still happen on weeknights.
Could we do it in Melbourne? Would we do it in Melbourne? Nightrider buses might well be adequate for demand on weeknights (but don’t even run at present), but on weekends (Friday and Saturday nights) are frequently swamped with users. Particularly on the busiest lines, and particularly over summer, trains would cope better with the loads.
Here’s the interesting thing: early planning for all-night weekend trains appears to be already be under way.
For such a thing to happen, there’s any number of factors that would need to be carefully planned — maintenance regimes, rosters for drivers, signalling and support staff, stations, PSOs…
One obvious step is ensuring that any future development on the rail network doesn’t get in the way of it.
The planning for Southland station includes such a clause. In a document obtained via FOI by The Age, the requirements clearly state that the infrastructure should allow for a future timetable with trains running 4:30am to 1am on weekdays, and “Friday 0530 through to Monday 0200″ — in other words, continuous services from Friday morning through to late Sunday night.
It doesn’t mean 24-hour weekend trains will be starting any time soon, nor that they would necessarily run on every line — a more likely initial outcome is the busiest lines only, where Nightriders don’t cope.
But it does appear that the early planning for it is happening now within PTV — ensuring that no new initiatives get in the way of doing it in the future. Great to see it’s on their radar.
Want to see it happen? Then get busy making your voice heard in the media and with your local MP.
For anybody with an NFC (Near Field Contact)-compatible phone (such as my new Google Nexus 5), you can use the this little app — Tag Info Lite to read Myki cards.
Not that it’ll tell you very much — see below. All the actual useful information appears to be encrypted.
Apparently in some parts of the world an unencrypted copy of the card balance/status is also stored, allowing apps that will let you check your balance. For instance Farebot works with cards from Seattle, San Francisco, Singapore, the Netherlands and parts of Japan, and Travel Card Reader looks similar.
Shame Myki doesn’t appear to have this option, not even in PTV’s own apps — though I guess in theory they and/or Keane could do it, given they issue devices to Authorised Officers to do card checks.
With the old Metcards, you could easily see the expiry date(s) as it was printed on the card itself.
This is an opportunity, of course. As more phones include this technology, perhaps a future (hopefully minor) upgrade could allow people to check their card balance or fare expiry in this way.
(Some apps claim to do this with Myki, but what they’re really doing is checking your online account, which is not necessarily up to date — the card is the point of truth.)
Oh, and here’s what I get from a Brisbane Go Card:
Regular passengers using Flinders Street Station will have noticed that while the platforms are numbered from 1 to 14, there’s no platform 11.
It’s not a Harry Potter scenario with a hidden platform. There used to be a platform 11, the twin of 10, facing the river, and commonly used by St Kilda and Port Melbourne trains until 1987 when they were converted to tram lines. But its track was removed — I assume when the pedestrian subway was extended to the river to meet the pedestrian bridge to Southgate, which opened in 1992.
Today, trains to Newport (Werribee and Williamstown and Altona Loop/Laverton, to be precise) depart from platform 10 on weekdays.
Problem with this is that one platform isn’t enough during peak hours, and the trains depart from either 10, 12, 9 or 8, which are mostly quite some distance apart. Passengers tell stories of rushing from one to the other in chaos. If only there were another platform adjacent platform 10…
So could they re-instate 11? It would require some changes to the river-side subway entrance, part of which is where the track would be, but most of the rest of the old track alignment appears to be intact.
But don’t all trains to Newport come through from the east?
Mostly, but not all, at least not during peak hour — a quick skim through the Working Timetable found the the 17:11 and 17:55 Flinders Street to Werribee services both come from Werribee (each followed by a Laverton service a few minutes later from platform 12 or 8/9), and this might increase when Regional Rail Link starts to allow yet more Newport trains. Any trains terminating from the west could easily run into 11 and reverse.
Even so, some trains from the east heading west would be able to run via 13 through to 11, if an effort was made to put Sandringham trains on 12 (which indeed would have more capacity for them if not used by any Newport trains).
Imagine that, Newport train users — all your peak hour trains from adjacent platforms 10 and 11! That would make life a lot easier for peak-hour passengers.
Alas, it seems someone has decided to build a bar or a cafe or something on the site instead.
Other missing platforms
Flinders Street used to have platforms 15 and 16, part of the old Princes Bridge station for Clifton Hill trains, now replaced by Federation Square. But of course their didn’t cause a gap in the numbering.
Box Hill has no platform 1. There’s a placeholder that was used during works, then put aside for future use when the station was moved underground in the 1980s.
Any other stations that are missing platforms?
Edit 15/11/2013: Added pic of the river entrance.
Veteran road industry figure Max Lay made something of a startling admission last week in an opinion piece in The Age on the proposed East West Link: that the intent of major road projects isn’t to fix congestion:
Opponents play the congestion card, arguing that previous projects have not eliminated congestion, forgetting that this was never their intent. The link will significantly improve the way traffic moves across Melbourne’s inner north, but there may be times when demand exceeds supply.
It’s a little surprising to hear this, as the government has made repeated claims about the East West Link being “congestion-busting“.
In fact, the newly-released EWL “Comprehensive Impact Study” makes more such claims:
Detailed traffic modelling for the first stage of the East West Link estimates the toll road will reduce peak travel times between Melbourne’s east and west by up to 20 minutes.
- ABC report
East West Link to slash road congestion, says State Government and RACV
- Herald Sun
(For more details, you want the CIS Technical Appendix E, page 45. Just take it with a pinch of salt, as traffic levels on inner-city roads are actually static or dropping; Vicroads official traffic count figures show Alexandra Parade traffic reduced across the board – and by to 34% on one section – between 2002 and 2012.)
Before Citylink opened, the road lobby made bold promises about travel times for that, too. How did they work out?
Here are some claims made by Citylink/Transurban themselves (published in The Age 16/11/1998) for AM peak trips, compared with the actual travel times then, and today:
|Trip||1998: AM peak||Promised AM peak||Promised time savings||2013 AM peak (Google Maps*)||Actual time savings|
|Corner Springvale/Ferntree Gully Rds to Docklands||33 mins||20 mins||40%||30 mins||10%|
|Dandenong to Port Melbourne||44 mins||28 mins||36%||43 mins||2%|
|Corner Toorak/Tooronga Rds to Melbourne Airport||43 mins||23 mins||47%||37 mins||14%|
And here are estimates for AM peak trips from the RACV, also published in The Age (27/5/1999).
|Trip||1999: AM peak||Promised AM peak time||Promised time savings||2013: AM peak (Google maps*)||Actual time savings|
|Oakleigh to City||38 mins||13 mins||66%||28 mins||26%|
|Gladstone Park to MCG||46 mins||26 mins||43%||41 mins||11%|
|Dandenong to Melbourne Airport||87 mins||39 mins||55%||60 mins||31%|
*Note that the 2013 figures use a limited sample size — Wednesday morning, to be precise, when there appeared to be no major road network disruptions. Actual travel times are, of course, highly variable.
And the 2013 figures use default values for some locations in Google Maps, which may not precisely match the intent in the forecasts, though they appear to be close — because estimates made last night at 11pm were very close to the claimed predictions.
In other words, the only way to get anything like the promised times is to make your trip in the middle of the night. The predictions appear to have assumed free-flowing traffic.
While some sections of Citylink have reduced speed limits from 100 to 80 since it opened, affecting travel times, the real difference is that traffic volumes (particularly at peak hour) have ballooned — free-flowing traffic simply doesn’t occur on these roads in peak hour.
So the result is that while there are some time savings, they are nowhere near what was promised. The travel times in AM peak today in most cases are actually closer to the pre-motorway times than the promised times.
Based on this, it’s hard to see how East West Link will meet its “congestion-busting” pledge. Of course, there’s always the chance that it’ll attract virtually no traffic — leaving surface roads clogged… that might mean it’s free-flowing, but with little toll revenue, an even bigger impost on taxpayers.
This recent update on Australian tollway traffic levels shows Citylink is one of the only tollways in the country that has steadily increased traffic since opening. It’s also one of the most profitable. It makes me wonder – could it be that tollways can either meet their trip savings promises or get enough traffic to be profitable, but do not both?
You could argue that it’s unrealistic to expect traffic predictions made in 1998 to be fulfilled in 2013, given the inevitable growth that has occurred in Melbourne, and the unpredictability of traffic. And you’d be right. But that’s precisely what is being done now with EWL with their 2031 predictions. Why should they be any more accurate than Citylink’s fifteen years ago?