I ran this poll on an internal PTUA members’ email list. Let’s try it here.
Here’s the context:
Trains, particularly in peak hour, are packed. More trains are being purchased, but the decision has to be made about how to deploy them. (Even if it’s decided to upgrade infrastructure such as with the proposed new tunnel, that may take a decade to happen.)
All trains serve Flinders Street, which has a large capacity (14 platforms), and provides good access to the southern half of the Central Business District. For passenger numbers it’s also the busiest single station.
Suburban trains can run via the City Loop, or they can run direct between Flinders Street and Richmond, Jolimont, North Melbourne, bypassing the Loop.
The City Loop (that is, Parliament, Melbourne Central and Flagstaff) skirts the eastern and northern sides of the CBD, but it’s only four tracks, so while a train running via the Loop provides easier access to more parts of the CBD, this section is something of a bottleneck, unlike the direct tracks into Flinders Street.
Approximate current weekday CBD station loads: Flinders Street 37%, Melbourne Central 22%, Parliament 17%, Southern Cross 16%, Flagstaff 8%.
So, to the question:
As a generalisation, how would you prefer to have train timetables organised? The options are:
Run some lines via the Loop, some direct to Flinders St.
(Pros: A consistent pattern. Allows more trains, without them interfering with each other. Some passengers who use Flinders St will get a quicker ride.
Cons: Some passengers will need to either walk further from Flinders St, catch a tram, or change trains along the way, and interchange facilities at North Melbourne and Richmond aren’t perfect)
Run each line half via the Loop, half direct to Flinders St
(Pros: Nobody has to change trains if they don’t want to.
Cons: Each pattern gets lower frequencies, so if you do want to avoid a change, you may have to wait longer to avoid it. Converging lines entering the Loop tunnels may cause some delays, and/or reduce the total number of trains that can run)
Squeeze most trains from most lines into the Loop
(Pros: More or less as it’s done now; many are used to it.
Cons: Severely limits services to around about the level we have now, and not solving the overcrowding issues).
Which would you choose?
Have I missed any Pros and Cons? Got some other revolutionary idea? Leave a comment.
Seems this Google form doesn’t prevent you voting twice. Please don’t. I’ll post the results in a couple of days.
Update 25/2/2011: The poll results are here.