In what might become a tradition (by my count this makes the fourth time in the last few months) Premier Brumby and Public Transport Minister Kosky took a train ride yesterday to make an announcement, this time at Jolimont, then caught a train to Parliament. (You could tell Brumby doesn’t catch the train much; the TV footage showed him standing on the right hand side of the escalator.)
And this time round, it’s some genuinely good news. eight more trains on order, making a total of eighteen to arrive from 2009. That’s an 11% boost to fleet size, or space for an extra 36,000 people (assuming two trips per train per peak), which will start to make a significant impact on the current overcrowding.
Of course, they’re going to need more each year after that if patronage keeps increasing, which it will (growing city + rising petrol prices = more people on trains).
And there’s a bunch of other things they could and should be doing in the meantime. For instance, spreading the peak over more hours by running more frequent trains (including expresses) throughout the day, and stop mucking about with short overcrowded trains in the evening and weekends. And doing a full review and revision of the timetable to make sure when the new trains arrive that they can be used effectively.
But at last it seems like they’re starting to realise things need fixing, and making it a priority to do so.