Today’s Herald Sun raises an issue that has been pondered for some time: 9 carriage trains to relieve overcrowding.
This would seem like a good opportunity to dig out my Bargearse remake video.
The reasoning behind adding carriages is that it’s close to becoming impractical to add more trains in peak onto the busiest lines, such as the Pakenham line, so they should make the trains longer instead.
Obviously they’d need to adjust signals and sidings, and make platforms longer. The question would be: can they make enough platforms longer that the trains could stop at the right places to take the bulk of the passenger load?
Let’s assume they couldn’t do the City Loop underground stations because of cost, but they could do Flinders Street and Southern Cross, which would connect much (but not all) of the CBD directly. Let’s also assume they would do Richmond (extensive connections) and South Yarra (which is increasingly becoming a major destination, as well as a big source of passengers) but that trains would skip the quieter stations on the line.
If, say, you lengthened platforms at the following: Caulfield (9791 boardings per weekday), Oakleigh (6820), Dandenong (6687), Springvale (5572), Noble Park (4554), Clayton (4323) and Huntingdale (4267). That’s about 42,000 weekday boardings. The remaining stops have about 22,000, so those 7 stations account for 65% of boardings.
Of course, this is making the assumption that the majority of people boarding from those stations that might get the longer platforms would also be travelling to other stations that would get them.
Obviously a lot more detailed analysis is needed. But it does mean that maybe, just maybe, “super-sized” trains stopping only at specific high-traffic stations might actually work. (Though of course the more stations they stop at, the more patronage they’d pick up, and the less the express running would reduce track capacity for other services.)
On the other hand, it might be easier to try double-deck trains again. Okay they’d have longer dwell times, but at least they could use the City Loop, and they don’t necessarily have to have only two doors per carriage side — Paris’s RER line A has trains with three doors per carriage side.
Upgrading signalling, grade separation and/or track expansion, and more off-peak trains (to spread the peak load) are also no doubt under consideration.