So, the new Metro timetables are out, and those of us with geeky tendencies have been poring over them.
(As one journo commented, it must take a special kind of person to work on these things for months on end.)
Here’s my summary:
In the west
Altona Loop trains originate at Laverton, meaning a lot more space, more likelihood of getting a seat.
Altona Loop and Williamstown trains drop from every 20 minutes in peak to every 22 minutes. To be useable, timetables need to be either frequent or memorable. This is neither, and it calls into question why something wasn’t done during the $90+ million Laverton Turnback project to ensure 20 minute services could continue to run.
Werribee trains more frequent and regular in peak, about every 11 minutes, and all bypass Altona Loop.
Altona Loop passengers have to change at Newport outside peak hours. And again at North Melbourne or Southern Cross if they want a Loop station. It might be the first time that (Stony Point line excepted) passengers have had to change trains twice to reach some City Loop stations.
Williamstown passengers will no longer have to change at Newport outside peak hours — the flip side of the Altona change.
Stations between South Kensington and Newport get more consistent services, every 10 minutes interpeak and every 11 minutes during peak.
Werribee and Williamstown trains upgraded to every 20 minutes on weekday evenings until about 10pm (then every half-hour).
…but they won’t run through the loop, so some people may have to wait up to 30 minutes at North Melbourne.
Belgrave/Lilydale line more AM weekday services after peak, including lots of expresses for people beyond Box Hill.
Glen Waverley direct to Flinders Street on weekday mornings, and more frequent in peak hour. Cross-platform interchange at Richmond. Alamein/Blackburn trains will run via the Loop instead. This should cut delays to Burnley group lines (as well as the Dandenong line), as it reduces conflicting movements.
In the afternoon, Glen Waverleys run via the Loop, whereas Alamein/Blackburn trains run direct from Flinders Street. It’s probably fairer, but is it also more confusing?
Note 7/5/2011: When I wrote this post I didn’t notice the reduction in trains stopping at Laburnum, Camberwell and Glenferrie.
Dandenong gets trains every twenty minutes on weekday evenings until about 10pm.
Longer trips on the Frankston line, which will have a concentration of Siemens trains (the ones with brake problems and speed limits) to try and get some predictability in the timetables (and improve the punctuality stats). For instance — old timetable 7:21 from Frankston arrives Flinders St 8:34 (73 minutes stopping all stations) — new: 7:20am from Frankston arrives Flinders St 8:36am (76 minutes stopping all stations). I wonder if this’ll work?
Frankston peak expresses extended for longer periods, into the shoulder peak period.
Frankston shoulder-peak services don’t conform to the peak pattern. Very inconsistent and confusing, particularly with regard to loop operation in the PM. So much for the talk of more consistent stopping patterns.
Frankston interpeak services now a regular ten minutes, all direct to/from Flinders Street, and through-routed to Newport (eg Werribee/Williamstown). Less confusing than the current half-Loop/half-direct pattern, and provides a cross-city connection.
Frankston evening services all direct to/from Flinders Street. Only a 20-30 minute frequency, so potentially a change of trains and a long wait for Loop passengers. (Nothing wrong with changing trains, but the frequency has to be good.)
Sandringham gets more peak hour services (to about every 7-8 minutes), including one or two originating at Middle Brighton (actually coming straight out of sidings at Brighton Beach, I assume).
Some other lines have a few extra services, or other minor changes, or no change at all. The Clifton Hill group is likely to get a shake-up when the South Morang extension opens, probably next year.
No weekend changes, despite increasing crowding, such as shown above — that’s the 5:08pm to Pakenham from Sunday afternoon. The Grand Prix was on, but all the fans were already at the track. Football at Etihad had finished, but there didn’t seem to be any fans around; they’d already gone home. The MCG football had just finished, but those fans were waiting for trains at Richmond. This was just a crowd of Melburnians heading home from usual (non-major-event) Central Melbourne activities.
All services to run as six cars rather than three.
In summary, some good, worthwhile upgrades that will in many cases will cut waiting times, and overcrowding and hopefully improve punctuality, but those at some stations will be left with a bitter taste (yeah the Altona people especially).
Of course it’s just one step in the evolution of the system. Hopefully the next revision won’t be too far off, and will be a clearer step forward for everyone.
PS. Myki 28+ day Pass users need to get their February compo claim in today (or possibly tomorrow; it’s unclear). It’s worth two daily fares. Metcard Monthly and longer users have a couple more weeks to claim. Claim forms here.