The train to Pakenham on a recent Saturday afternoon, about 5pm:
Finally this looks to be fixed, at least on the Frankston, Dandenong and Ringwood lines, with trains to run every 10 minutes between 10am and 7pm on weekends.
This is genuinely good news, and although the extra padding going into the timetable is a concern, I expect the boosted service will be welcomed by passengers, and result in patronage growth.
And it’s an important step in providing frequent services, all day everyday, just like a real metro.
In fact, if they can get the confusing peak shoulder (4pm-5pm and 6pm-7pm) timetable sorted out, and if they were to increase service after 7pm from the current 20-30 minute frequencies, it probably makes the humble Frankston line Australia’s first metro.
Next step should be to upgrade other lines, and start providing high frequencies on buses, starting with Smartbus (as well as trams, where they’re lacking) to provide a frequent anywhere-to-anywhere network across Melbourne.
Update lunchtime: The government’s press release includes this important quote from the minister:
“The Coalition Government is moving Melbourne’s weekend trains to a metro style frequency where for much of the day, passengers will be able to dispense with a timetable.
This is important because it shows definitively that the Coalition supports “metro style” train frequencies, something that Labor started in 2009.
The challenge for the government (whoever is in power at the time) is to keep pushing these upgrades onto the rest of the network (train, tram and bus), and at all times of day, seven days-a-week — to provide a full service, high-frequency network across Melbourne that is a genuine alternative to car travel.