An article the other day revealed the latest passenger counts on trains show that overcrowding during peak hour has dropped slightly. I don’t have those figures to hand, but I do have these graphs from 2007 handy, and I thought it might be interesting for people to see how the various lines compare. Patronage has grown, but the patterns haven’t changed much.
They show the loads by counting the numbers as trains reach North Melbourne, Jolimont or Richmond. The target “desirable” number is 798 people per train. More than that is clearly shown on the graphs, and is called a “load breach”.
I’ve snipped this up to just show morning peak periods, which are busiest. You can see why the Sydenham line is rated as the worst for crowding, with some trains carrying over 1100 people.
The busiest lines are those the government is now throwing money at:
Sydenham is clearly the worst. It and Werribee will benefit from the Regional Rail Link project, which will free up space on the line taken by the country trains to allow more suburban trains. Werribee gets the Laverton turnback, and Sydenham will also be helped by the Sunbury electrification (see my previous post on this). Craigieburn’s got a stabling project going on, and Albury trains will move onto the Standard Gauge line soon.
Epping and Hurstbridge are getting a bunch of upgrades as part of the South Morang project (though for some reason they’re reluctant to talk about it). Dandenong/Pakenham/Cranbourne has the Westall upgrade underway which will help provide more trains. Frankston is okay for infrastructure, it just needs more trains. Sandringham has got some couple of extra trains since ’07.
(Some argue there are easier/quicker/better ways of getting more trains running than the above projects. I’m not debating that here — just stating what’s funded and happening.)
The graphs also make it clear why some lines aren’t getting extra trains and infrastructure. If you’re in the leafy eastern suburbs on the Belgrave, Lilydale, Alamein or Glen Waverley lines, or on the Upfield line, then sorry — the others have it worse than you. (And remember, these figures indicate a typical day — when things go screwy, it’s a whole new ballgame.)
Not to say every line shouldn’t get more frequent trains mind you. The 20 minute peak-hour services from Upfield, Altona and Williamstown are like some kind of bad joke, and ditto to the 30 minute services most lines have after 7pm.
I’m still of the view that to spark further patronage growth outside peak hours (including evenings and weekends), that there should be trains at least every 10 minutes where possible, 6am to midnight, and single line sections within the Urban Growth Boundary should be duplicated to allow that.
And there’s other, cheaper, operational changes they could make to improve things. There’s certainly a lot more to be done.