FOI shows early planning under way for all-night weekend trains in Melbourne

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.

Frankston line, 11:50pm Friday night

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.

Southland station FOI: Early planning for 24-hour trains at weekends

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.

Google celebrates 150 years of London Underground – and could we have bought Oyster?

As seen at google.co.uk on Wednesday. Very cool.

Google Doodle London Underground

(Large version found via the Going Underground blog)

Note the subtle shading of fare zones, which reflects how they look on the official maps.

It’s been claimed in the past that in Melbourne we couldn’t adopt an existing smartcard ticket system like Oyster because Melbourne had specific needs. I disagree… London has zones, trains, trams, buses and ferries. We have zones, trains, trams, buses. A handful of ferries run in Melbourne, but aren’t part of the integrated fare system.

Myki and OysterNot so different.

Perhaps it wouldn’t have saved much money to buy Oyster (Sydney is doing so, and it’s costing a similar amount to Myki), but I bet it would have saved time getting it running, and from what I’ve seen, we would have got faster response times on the readers.

That said, Brisbane implemented Oyster as “Go” card, and has had some issues. And Myki’s ambition was to cover most of Victoria with fare zones – I wonder if Oyster could have handled that. (V/Line buses run to Canberra and Adelaide. Adelaide was going to be zone 73.)

But of course now Myki has been cut in scope to go no further than the V/Line commuter belt — 13 zones in all. I suspect it could have handled it.

And the rumour is some in the bureaucracy are beginning to realise the way Myki was built was a mistake. Too late now.

London Underground shower curtain FTW!

With thanks to my sister, who picked this up for me during a work trip to London last week. (I needed a new one.)

London Underground shower curtain

If you’re in London you can get them from the excellent London Transport Museum shop. Otherwise, at the online shop.

(It’s so big and my bathroom is so small that it’s impossible for me to snap a picture of the whole of it in position.)

My new desktop wallpaper

Cattle class, anybody?

Desktop wallpaper

The picture is from a Friends of the Earth stunt in London, protesting against factory farming, and their link to rainforest destruction. There’s some great images of cows on the streets and on the Tube.