The other day, local Federal Liberal candidate (and Finance spokesman) Andrew Robb’s minions had left signs at the station, but apparently didn’t have the nerve to actually face people and try and sell their policies… which of course include refusing to fund urban public transport.
Mind you, Robb’s campaigners were out at the station a few weeks ago. And while I’ve also seen the Greens and Rise Up Australia (as well as the PTUA!), I haven’t seen hide nor hair of the Labor candidate, Daniel Guttman — given it’s a strong Liberal seat, he probably has no chance.
Yesterday it became clear that not only will the Coalition not fund public transport if they get into power, they will actually take away already funded money.
Their funding of public transport won’t be zero, it’ll be negative.
They’ll scrap these:
…as well as a heap of money in foreign aid and other things, and instead they’ll fund these:
Why is Tony Abbott’s Coalition so against public transport?
His book Battlelines indicates he genuinely doesn’t believe it can work in Australian cities.
Along with the messed-up internet filter policy, the hobbled NBN, the scrapping of the carbon price, embracing fossil fuels and ignoring renewables, the forthcoming Abbottalypse is looking like giving us the most regressive government in quite some time.
What’s staggering to me is that Labor haven’t managed to articulate this to the electorate. They ramble on about trust (which after their own problems of the last few years, they are not well-endowed with) instead of making the most of the policy divide, which if explained, would show many of Labor’s as largely progressive compared to the Coalition’s mostly backward-looking ideas.
Where are the progressive conservatives?
There are actually sound rational conservative arguments in favour of public transport, particularly around economic development, as well as encouraging competition between modes rather than dominance of roads and their dependence on foreign oil.
What a shame in Australia we don’t have progressive, rational, thinking conservatives like in Europe… well, at least, not in power at the federal level.
Tony Abbott is determined to throw billions at the East West road tunnel if he’s elected, despite not having seen the business case.
The public hasn’t seen the business case. Neither has Tony, as it turns out. But he has faith. He believes it exists.
I mean, there are lots of things that I haven’t seen but I know, and I know that there is a business case for the East West Link.
All the public has been able to see is an 8 page summary. Because apparently that’s all the scrutiny we’re allowed when the biggest single transport project the state has ever considered comes onto the radar. One page per billion dollars to be spent.
p2 > Major drivers of the project are:
The need to improve access to the highly productive core of Melbourne and enabling the knowledge sector to grow.
Isn’t the knowledge sector centred around the CBD and university/medical precinct, the very areas they claim the road tunnel won’t serve (and which are better served by PT because they rely on high density) ?
p2 > Equitable access to jobs and services across Melbourne
Not sure how more expensive (to use) toll roads help this, particularly as a key part of equity is having a choice, but most have no choice but to drive (meanwhile some in our community can’t drive. And of course tolls make driving even more expensive.
p3 > In particular, north-south tram routes are severely hampered by lack of priority across the heavily trafficked Alexandra Parade corridor.
That can be solved without building more road capacity. It is quite possible to give priority to high-capacity modes, but [gasp] giving them priority.
p4 > Eastern Freeway widening between Hoddle Street and possibly to Tram Road, and managed motorways between Hoddle Street and possibly Springvale Road.
Danger of using the long-reserved Doncaster rail alignment? Unclear.
p4 > CBD-oriented public transport enhancements that are enabled by changed traffic patterns and which support greater productivity in inner Melbourne.
So they seem to admit that greater inner Melb productivity is based on better PT. All possible without the road, of course. In fact, better without the road, as there is then more money around to upgrade PT.
p4 > The total cost of the project is $6-8 billion
Note this refers to stage one (eastern end) only.
p5 > Travel time savings will be experienced by users of the project as well as users of other roads in the Melbourne network that experience reduced flows, including passengers in trams and buses.
Their travel time savings diagram available on the same web page goes into more detail: they say trips from Ringwood to the airport will be 20 minutes quicker; Box Hill to Footscrayish 20 minutes quicker; Box Hill to Port of Melbourne 20 minutes quicker. These are all at peak times.
As we know from the SE Fwy, this doesn’t last. Some good figures here showing what happened — in summary, when the freeway opened in 1988, traffic on High Street Road and Waverley Road dropped markedly. Within ten years it was back, thanks to induced traffic.
In fact in my view, the only way to lock-in reductions in traffic is to reduce capacity on those existing roads.
p5 > Travel time benefits for all parties have been captured in the economic appraisal. The economic results suggest that, across the broader Melbourne transport network, there will be very substantial travel time savings.
So they won’t publish the full time benefit estimates? (Without any detail, it’s simply not credible given Citylink’s claims before it opened.)
p7 > The core result shows a benefit cost ratio of 1.4 including wider economic benefits as appropriate for a major project of this nature targeting economic growth.
When my kids hand in school work, they have to show how they got to the result. Just sayin’.
p8 > Availability Payment Public Private Partnership (PPP) model with tolls retained by the State.
Hooray! Everything’s underpinned by taxpayer risk!
Anyway, have a read yourself.
The problem with it is, of course, it doesn’t answer anywhere near enough for a project of this size.
The government continues to claim commercial-in-confidence, but given a project most people don’t want, and the huge cost, and the fact that it will be underwritten by us taxpayers, and the fact that it wasn’t flagged they’d do it before the last election, and they’re crowing about wanting to get all the contracts in place before the next election… well, this is not their greatest moment in openness and accountability — more information should be provided to justify it.
PS. It’s not hard to see why the Big End Of Town is behind the project… and it’s not necessarily about business productivity.
Abbott’s outright refusal to fund urban public transport (while throwing billions into motorways) hasn’t won him any friends here. Make sure your vote counts.
If you missed it in the Sunday debate, or yesterday on social media, here’s the 30 second summary of Tony Abbott’s transport policy.
The state government continues to push the East-West motorway (a plan they barely mentioned in the 2010 election campaign) over major public transport projects.
But what do the people want? As it happens there’s a pretty clear message from surveys going back at least five years. (Skip to the end for the latest one.)
And 94% believe the Government should be spending more on public transport. Extra spending on roads was supported by 55% of those surveyed.
The survey, taken last month by Sweeney Research, involved 601 respondents in Melbourne and 2000 nationally.
– The Age 20/10/2008: Melburnians want better system
A survey of attitudes to transport found that 94 per cent of respondents believed more money should be spent on public transport, while just 68 per cent said the government did not spend enough on roads.
This trend was reflected nationally, with an average of 88 per cent of those surveyed calling for more public transport funding, and 73 per cent wanting more spending on road infrastructure.
– The Age 10/4/2011: Fix trains, then roads: commuters
ALMOST two-thirds of Australians believe investment in public transport is more important than investment in roads, a survey has found.
In Victoria 63 per cent of people surveyed said investing in public transport was the highest priority, compared with 20 per cent who believed it was most important to invest in roads.
– The Age 26/9/2012: Make room: transport survey, quoting the University of Sydney
Over half (53%) of Australians said that the highest priority issue for transport in Australia is public transport improvements, followed by road improvements (26%).
– University of Sydney, Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS): Transport Opinion Survey (TOPS), Quarter 1, March 2013 (an update of the survey quoted for September 2012)
Would you prefer the Napthine Government to spend more on public transport or road infrastructure projects, like the East West Link tunnel?
Public transport 58.8%
Road infrastructure projects 32.3%
Update 23/7/2013: It’s emerged via a Melbourne Times Weekly article that more RACV members believe enhanced public transport is a better fix for traffic congestion than more roads. In responding to the article, the RACV has revealed that only 38% of their members support the East-West tollway tunnel.
Update 28/11/2013: A poll published by The Age today shows 23% support the East West tunnel, compared to 74% supporting improved public transport.
Last Saturday some of us from the PTUA did a tour of the Regional Rail Link project. Here are some photos and notes.
The RRL project, for those who haven’t being paying attention, is basically a brand new railway from somewhere west of Werribee, through new stations in the fast-growing suburbs of Wyndham Vale and Tarneit, then joining the Ballarat Line west of Deer Park, heading in through Sunshine to two new platforms there, and a new pair of tracks from there into the city, with extra platforms also at Footscray and at Southern Cross.
So it has two goals: to separate V/Line and Metro trains from Melbourne’s west, and to serve new suburbs.
The project, almost $5 billion in total, is predominantly funded by the Federal Government. Around the traps I first heard it mooted in late-2007, though reserving a corridor north of Werribee had been flagged in 2006. It was officially proposed in the 2008 Eddington study, then popped-up again in Labor’s 2009 Victorian Transport Plan, gaining funding as part of stimulus spending to help avoid the Global Financial Crisis. For a while it was a bit mysterious as it was well outside the Urban Growth Boundary… then, not completely unexpectedly, the UGB moved west to encompass it — could it be that for once, urban planning and transport were in sync?
The city end
Ironically the tour started an hour later than scheduled because every single person attending was held-up by disrupted train services, on various lines. Eventually we got started at Footscray, then headed for the city end and made our way back outwards.
At Southern Cross, new platforms and track are in place, but signalling work is still being carried out. It may be that the extra platforms (15 and, out in the weather, 16) will come into service before the rest of the project is finished.
Some trains will go into the new platforms; others will use the flyover near North Melbourne, which is being strengthened, to head into platforms 1 to 8. Extra track over Dudley Street will help V/Line trains stay completely separate from suburban services, which would have otherwise caused a bottleneck. A number of old freight lines in the area have been moved around as well.
Heading back towards Footscray on a train, we looked at the works on the south side of the line, with the two extra tracks taking shape rapidly. They’ll go over the Maribyrnong River on a new bridge (hey, a new river crossing!) then on a flyover over the current tracks to Newport, which will be shifted south a bit in the cutting coming into Footscray. The suburban tracks to Sunshine will be moved to the north, to go into the two new platforms at Footscray, with the V/Line trains using the (to be) middle platforms.
At Footscray, the “colander” bridge is being extended over the extra tracks, and has apparently already had some weather-proofing added to it, to reduce the amount of wind and rain that gets in. Footscray station is losing all its parking, but that’s all to be replaced (and more) by spaces going in at West Footscray. Fair enough — while I’ve used Footscray’s parking on occasions, it’s a central activities district — the worst place to waste land on parking. They’ll need to improve bus/tram connections from some directions though.
The most important thing? The doughnut man is staying. In fact he’s getting a brand new kiosk! A second kiosk will be in the forecourt area, to help provide more activity in the area. The bridge will eventually have ramps, escalators and lifts.
Middle Footscray to West Footscray has long been one of the shortest distances between two stations — the latter was built there to serve the footy ground, but this is no longer used. This project is moving West Footscray about 200 metres further west. Well, when I say moving, I mean replacing with a brand new station.
A lot of this stretch of the line is in a cutting. Notably, where it would be difficult to add them later, stanchions are being installed to cater for later electrification. (Electrification and duplication to Melton has been mooted for a while.)
Sunshine will get an upgrade — a new aboveground concourse — and two additional platforms.
It’s unclear how many V/Line trains will stop there. It’s been confirmed to me that the infrastructure will permit it, but the infrastructure guys don’t necessarily know what the service planners are thinking. The best indication we have at present is from the Rowville study, which indicates that most trains from Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo will run express through Sunshine, but that trains originating at Melton and Bacchus Marsh (2 per hour off-peak, 3 per hour peak) will stop there. There’s a good argument for having more trains stop there, given development in the area, including the Victoria University campus, as well as interchange between V/Line trains.
The junction just west of Sunshine is where trains from Melbourne to Ballarat and Geelong trains will head west, while Bendigo trains head north-west. It’ll be a flat junction, so some potential for delays here… hopefully it can be upgraded later if needed — I’m not sure; space may be tight, given nearby roads.
Just west of Sunshine, the two level crossings on Anderson Road (one for trains towards Ballarat, one towards Bendigo) are being grade-separated. The Bendigo tracks will have a short section of additional track before joining the suburban line to Sunbury. One day they might get their own lines all the way, but for now they’ll at least have space so that trains from Bendigo to Melbourne can stop and queue to enter the RRL tracks if they need to, without delaying Metro trains behind them.
Towards Ballarat, the existing V/Line tracks are used. There are some minor upgrades going on such as the installation of automatic pedestrian gates where they don’t exist at remaining crossings. (I’m not sure; this may include the location where a lady was killed by a train in 2008.)
At Deer Park West the Ballarat line will have a new junction, with Geelong trains diverging here down through the “greenfields” section towards the new suburbs.
Near the new station at Tarneit, a lot of houses are built, or under construction, at least on the south side. Real estate agents have clearly identified the railway as a selling point. (I wonder… $360K for a house-and-land package 500 metres from a brand new station and a planned shopping centre could be a pretty good investment, if only I had the money.)
At this point of the tour, it was starting to get pretty dark, emphasising how big this thing is. My photos of Wyndham Vale station — a big hole in the dark — aren’t worth publishing.
Tarneit and Wyndham Vale stations will have bus stops close to station entrance. Both will have several hundred parking spots, and provision for more later (which costs more money, of course). Most new and rebuilt stations are designed to have staff/booking office areas overlooking platforms, to help security. Where lifts are provided, ramps will also be available.
Both new stations have provision for extra platforms and two additional tracks to be added at a later date. Cuttings (eg either side of Wyndham Vale station) haven’t been built for four tracks just yet, but are big enough for the two tracks plus space to work on expanding later without encroaching onto those two tracks.
From the new suburbs, the RRL line continues south from Wyndham Vale, and will join the existing Werribee to Geelong line with a flyover (helping to prevent delays, including from passing freight trains on the standard gauge line) at a place called Manor, west of Werribee.
Early versions of the project plans included a rail connection from Werribee to Wyndham Vale, with the possibility of electric trains being extended there to their own platforms, providing an interchange, and a stabling yard a north of the station. But that’s all in the future — it’s unclear how existing passengers between Werribee and Geelong will be catered for.
I’m told the new lines will be signalled to handle trains every 2 minutes from Sunshine to the City. The usual formula for reliable running is a 20% reduction on theoretical (30 trains per hour) capacity, making 24 trains per hour.
The Metro tracks are getting all-new equipment, but will remain at their current 155 second headways (apparently some trains do run closer today, thanks to some clever use of the TPWS that’s fitted, I believe, to the V/Line fleet and on all V/Line commuter lines.
Between Sunshine and Manor, the signalling will cope with trains every 3 minutes — so for practical purposes, 16 trains per hour. Signalling equipment going in is capable (where relevant of course) of conversion to work with next-generation in-cab signalling.
The speed limit will be mostly 80 from City to Sunshine; 160 further out, but some lower limits for junctions and flyovers. Official modelling suggests no longer travel time for Geelong line.
My back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests 13 km at 80kmh = 10 minutes, and 34 km at 160 kmh = 13 minutes … for a total of 23 minutes. Expresses will stop once on the RRL line — at Footscray. Stopping trains will stop up to three times in this section, adding up to say 6 minutes, for a total of about 29 minutes.
So it should be pretty competitive with today’s travel time via Werribee and Newport. It’s a bit hard to compare current times, but in one case the train from Warrnambool inbound in the evening takes 35 minutes from Werribee to Southern Cross (stopping only at Footscray).
Apparently the RRL project has an excellent safety record. Only three incidents have been recorded — sounds like one was a guy who twisted his ankle, and the other two were white-collar workers in project offices — I can’t quite remember the details, but it was along the lines of paper cuts!
All RRL platforms will be 250m long to cope with long V/Line trains (8 carriages?) — including the new Southern Cross platforms.
In many spots, bike paths (or provision for later bike paths) will be provided along the rail alignment.
Freight will not be permitted on the new line between Manor and Deer Park – sounds like the relevant authorisations under noise standards only cover passenger trains.
There’ll probably be some opportunities to start using bits of infrastructure before the entire project is finished, eg the additional Southern Cross platforms, which will provide some big benefits — currently V/Line and Metro mix it up on platforms 13 and 14.
The web site is worth a look; a lot of info on there, including (as posted recently) some rather good video flyovers. www.regionalraillink.vic.gov.au. Also bear in mind how it fits into the broader PTV rail plan.
Overall I’m impressed. Of course, some issues remain… particularly for current regional passengers who want to use Werribee and North Melbourne stations, and the cost is huge, but it’s great to see this project taking shape, and for many in Tarneit and Wyndham Vale it’ll help provide transport options other than driving their cars everywhere.
And, memo to self: next time I go take a look, I should take notes as well as photos. The project is so big I’ve probably forgotten some details. Hopefully I haven’t got anything wrong above — comments and corrections very welcome, as always!
If Tony Abbott’s Coalition won’t build rail, why do they include a rail icon on their infrastructure policy?
At least, I’m assuming it’s an icon for rail — not giant white picket fences to keep out asylum seekers, or something like that.
(The above is from the summarised version. The slightly more detailed policy document is here).
True, they’ve specified they won’t build urban rail, but it seems pretty clear their plan is to build lots of roads, and no rail at all.
In fact, their plan proposes a frenzy of motorway construction right across the country. Truly a pave-the-planet scenario: Melbourne East-West Link, multiple projects in Sydney, Brisbane Gateway Motorway, Adelaide South Road, Tasmania Midland Highway, and a bunch in Perth.
One can only conclude that they really believe that — unlike every other major urban road project in history — this massive road expansion will somehow solve traffic problems.
Unfortunately this kind of popularist, car-oriented thinking misses is the point that transport is supply-driven. Traffic demand grows to fill the available capacity.
When it comes down to it, this means if you want more people to drive, building more roads is the way to do it. If you want more people to use public transport, provide more of that instead.
If elected, Mr Abbott will fund more roads, which will fill with more traffic — further undermining sustainable transport modes, not the least by starving them of billions of dollars of funding for years. Wonderful.
My time on the PTUA committee only overlapped with Paul’s by about a year or so. I was newsletter editor in his final year as President. But I remembered him from my days as an “ordinary” member in the 90s, and in my time as Prez and afterwards, I encountered him regularly around the traps. There were few more passionate and articulate about public transport than he.
Paul died last night from cancer, aged just 52.
As late as last week he was still contributing to the debate, with this video that he sent along to the packed Trains Not Tollroads public meeting.
Over more than 25 years, he made a huge contribution to the transport debate in Melbourne. It must have been tough work in the 80s and 90s, when public transport was being neglected and patronage was on the decline. By the time the new century clicked around, patronage was climbing again thanks to a booming CBD and growing population — making the political sell for improved services easier.
Paul will be sorely missed.
RIP Comrade. Thoughts with Erica and family.