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.
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.
…documents obtained by the Greens through freedom of information reveal that the positive results did not include many trains that were affected by the knock-on effect of a cancelled or delayed service. Of the 437 trains surveyed, 113 were excluded.
– The Age, Train overcrowding getting worse: Greens
Here’s the thing. Load surveys aren’t measuring overcrowding for the sake of measuring overcrowding.
You don’t hire scores of people to stand on platforms with clipboards to learn that cancellations are bad because they result in crowded trains, and we should avoid cancelling services. That is obvious.
Load surveys are for designing new timetables, to identify where and when extra trains should run. So while some may disagree, I think it’s perfectly sensible for them to exclude cancellations. To not do so would make it impossible to know where services should be added.
By all means they could publish the raw figures, or a version that does include cancellations, but for the primary purpose — service planning — they have to be excluded.
Here is another in my series of old photos from when I first got a digital camera.
M>Train (which came after Bayside trains, and before Connex) had a rather nice livery and logo. Here’s a Comeng train heading towards the city on the outer stretches of the Upfield line. Myself and Peter, another PTUA bod, had gone out there to look at the spot for the proposed Campbellfield Station… still not built.
Do you remember when you could exit straight out of Melbourne Central, up to Swanston Street via a direct escalator, without having to navigate a maze of shops along the way? Ten years ago this month the plans to change it became public.
A 3-car Hitachi train, looking the worse for wear, rolls into Murrumbeena station. I assume the lead cab was normally in the middle of a 6-car set, and years of residue off the pantographs hadn’t been cleaned off properly. Within a year or two, most Hitachi trains would be prematurely scrapped, leading to overcrowded trains as patronage leapt up.
Half the gunzels in Melbourne are chattering about this: through the wonders of green screen and stock footage, the most recent episode of How I Met Your Mother (which aired last weekend in the USA, and on Thursday night in Australia) featured a Melbourne Comeng suburban train in Connex colours.
The stock footage appears to have been shot from another platform; it’s not necessarily a 3+ platform station. The building seems to be one of Melbourne’s newer ones; probably the “down” (away from the city) platform, but as-yet I haven’t been able to identify it. Anybody want to have a go?
Update Sunday 9:45pm: I think I’ve worked it out. Will be interested to see if anybody reaches the same answer I did.
The answer is… Brighton Beach
Update Monday 12:30pm: Rather than spend hours scouring the net for pictures of stations and doing painstaking comparisons, I thought about this laterally.
As Stephen said in the comments, the question is why is a Melbourne train in a US TV show? It’s stock footage – someone’s needed to save time and/or money in getting footage of a moving train to put on the green screen, and they’ve looked through available footage for something that matches the studio shot they were setting up.
So I did a quick bit of searching stock footage web sites to see if I could find it. And I found it – 23 seconds of glorious 16:9 HD vision, shot at Brighton Beach:
MELBOURNE – CIRCA OCTOBER 2009: Suburban train arriving Brighton Beach Station (click through to watch the vision)
The HIMYM producers have cropped it and carefully placed it in the completed programme to mostly hide the people on the platform, but if you look closely, it’s a match.
I noted this tweet from my local state MP, boasting of improved punctuality on the Frankston line since she and the Coalition came to power in November 2010:
Frankston line punctuality in Nov 2010 86% & Aug 2013 93% =7.6% improvement. Vic Coalition delivering 4 #Bentleigh &Frankston line commuters
— Elizabeth Miller MP (@EMillerMP) September 17, 2013
But are these two figures really showing an improvement? Tony Smith on Twitter replied, pointing out that two data points aren’t a trend. (And I think he wants me to run for parliament.)
— Tony Smith (@ynotds) September 17, 2013
Funny thing is, my records show punctuality was actually lower than Ms Miller quoted in November 2010 — at just 73.5% (arrivals within 5 minutes). I suspect she was looking at the November 2011 figure.
Here’s the period in question on a graph, with a trend line added.
So yes, the trend is up.
But there’s a problem with the Coalition claiming credit for it. The biggest boost in punctuality in mid-2011 was when a timetable re-write was introduced, separating out most weekday services from the Dandenong line. It also cut the myriad of stopping patterns. But that timetable was largely prepared while Labor was still in power.
The other relevant changes during the Coalition’s term (apart from very welcome boosts in weekend frequency) were timetable tweaks providing a longer running time on the line (in some cases leaving multimillion dollar trains sitting idle waiting for the timetable to catch up), and Metro’s new habit of skipping stations (either bypassing them completely by running direct instead of via the Loop, or running express where scheduled to stop) to catch up time.
Metro would claim that this is to keep trains in position by ensuring one service delay doesn’t cascade into the next, but on occasions they have been found to be doing this where it didn’t make operational sense — such as this example, where an evening shoulder-peak train was altered to stop at just a handful of stations, despite plenty of trains being available for its return run.
Network-wide the punctuality trend is also up, though it’s less pronounced:
So overall, there’s no denying the punctuality stats have improved since November 2010.
But what about…
But what about a graph of that other big election promise for the Frankston line?
By September 2003, I was using the digital camera a little more.
One for the gunzels — trains in the yards outside Spencer Street Station (click here to see it bigger)