Regional Rail Link works continue

There’s a good view from North Melbourne station of the works on the new Regional Rail Link line that will come in from Sunshine and the western suburbs, bypassing North Melbourne (unfortunately, with no interchange platforms) into Southern Cross. The idea is that V/Line trains will be able to bypass the suburban tracks, allowing both more V/Line and Metro trains to run.

Regional Rail Link works at North Melbourne

Nearby at Southern Cross, the new platforms are looking increasingly close to complete, though the track is still missing.

Regional Rail Link works at Southern Cross

Note the glass wall. When Southern Cross was built/renovated last decade, they did include provision for the extra platforms 15+16, which is why these have taken shape so quickly. But the glass wall on the western side of the station will actually sit between these platforms.

So platform 15 will be inside, and platform 16… well, that could be a little chilly and wet on cold rainy days.

Regional Rail Link works at Southern Cross

There are still questions about the overall project. There’s still little or no public information on an operating plan of any kind — which should be a prerequisite before you start building.

That is, you should work out what train services you want to run, then build the infrastructure to allow it. We still don’t know if the V/Line trains originating in Geelong will stop at the new stations in Wyndham Vale and Tarneit. We don’t know if passengers at Deer Park and Ardeer will get any extra trains stopping. We don’t know if Geelong trains will take longer on their trip, coming into Melbourne the long way around, even if the tracks they use are faster.

It seems the project wasn’t planned that carefully — despite being one of the most expensive infrastructure projects ever undertaken in Australia.

Victorian transport department secretary Jim Betts said at a conference last week that the $5 billion Regional Rail Link, which has blown out by $1 billion, was budgeted for haphazardly. ”The budget for that project was basically haggled over between the state and the Commonwealth one weekend and we end up with a number written on the back of an envelope,” he said. It was reported in the Australian Financial Review.

The Age, Baillieu sorry for transport blunder

Hopefully that planning is going on behind the scenes. Alas, if it is, like much of the planning of our public transport network, how they’re intending to spend taxpayers’ money is being kept secret from taxpayers.

The Doctor catches V/Line

Spotted on Saturday after the Doctor Who/Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Symphonic Spectacular:
The Doctor spotted at Southern Cross Station

Reports from the UK suggest Doctor Who has prompted more people to wear bow ties. I don’t know if that’s rubbed off in Australia, but there were certainly more bow ties and fezzes than I’ve ever seen around Melbourne yesterday, both at the venue (the Plenary at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre) and on the way to and from there.

I was impressed that they sold out such a huge venue — twice. (As far as I can see, in the configuration we saw, the Plenary seats over five thousand people.)

And the fact that it was a balanced demographic (male and female, family groups and individuals — not just nerds) attending shows the programme reaches a much wider audience now than it did when I was growing up.

Indeed, at a barbecue on Saturday night, the laughter that I might have once faced when describing the event I’d been to was instead replaced by envy from some who’d tried and failed to get tickets.

Can I just say the event was excellent, by the way. Some great music, bringing memories from the past few years of the show flooding back, as well as some nods to the “classic” episodes of my youth. Host Mark Sheppard was good, and to my surprise, composer of all of the music (bar the theme tune) Murray Gold was also in attendance. Tony has a good write-up of the concert.

Dalek with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Daleks patrol

Cyberman

Southern Cross Station as viewed from above

Before last week I’d never seen this view of Southern Cross Station. It looks quite unworldly. CL was giving me a quick tour of Media House — as he commented, it looks like something from Dune.

Southern Cross Station from above

What you can’t see from the photos (not even zoomed-in) is that some sections closest to the edge, and between the lumpy bits, are actually inflatable plastic. Presumably it’s some essential part of the design.

Southern Cross Station from above

Here’s a more conventional angle. Anubis and Chrome are still in residence.

Southern Cross Station main entrance

New platforms at Southern Cross

When Southern Cross Station was built/renovated/unnecessarily renamed, someone made the wise decision to include provision for an extra two platforms: 15 and 16.

These are now being built as part of the (possibly otherwise ill-fated) Regional Rail Link project, and seem to be progressing nicely.

July 2010:
Southern Cross Stn: Platforms 15+16 under construction

Last week:
Southern Cross Stn: Platforms 15+16 under construction

There’s a catch.

It’s the big glass wall. It can’t be (cheaply) moved. It’ll have to sit in the middle of the new platforms.

So what will they do? There will be doors in the glass to get through it. Which means if it’s raining, you’d better take an umbrella if you want to use platform 16.

Southern Cross Stn: Platforms 15+16 under construction

They probably have little choice now. Maybe the planning ahead wasn’t quite so good after all.