Regional Rail Link: Melbourne’s first brand new suburban train line since 1930

It’s often said that there hasn’t been a suburban rail line built in Melbourne since the Glen Waverley line opened in 1930. To be precise, that year it was extended from Darling to Glen Waverley.

Others built or extended since then have either been electrification along existing lines, or re-openings of lines along old alignments: Werribee, Sunbury, Craigieburn, Cranbourne.

The City Loop was all-new, but is not suburban and didn’t serve any areas that had no existing public transport routes. South Morang kinda re-opened an old line, but was basically a completely new alignment.

(Update: it’s been rightly pointed out to me that Westona station is on a section of line first opened in 1985.)

Regional Rail Link changes that. Despite the name, and despite being served by diesel trains, it will serve new suburban areas, with stations at Tarneit and Wyndham Vale, and is being built almost entirely in suburban Melbourne (both in fresh “green fields” and existing “brown fields” areas).

The RRL social media team has been busy, and they’ve posted a video flyover of the whole project.

When seen like this, it puts the size of the project into perspective, and at 47 kilometres long, it’s longer than any existing suburban line except the Pakenham line (though with far fewer stations).

At a full cost of around $4.8 billion (around $100 million per kilometre), it’s a lot of money… but it looks like a bargain against the proposed East West road tunnel stage 1, at $6-8 billion for just 6 kilometres (around $1 billion per kilometre). Of course, that’s mostly tunnel, which is more expensive — though even against the proposed rail tunnel the road expensive in terms of construction cost and particularly cost per person moved.

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8 thoughts on “Regional Rail Link: Melbourne’s first brand new suburban train line since 1930”

  1. 1
    Tranzit Jim says:

    Fantastic project.

    Even if it is just for what it does Up to Sunshine.

    +Dedicated express tracks, which would at least make it better for Bendigo and Ballarat trains

    +New platforms at Southern Cross, of which are well needed already.

    And, ofcourse there is the Deer park to Manor section, great for helping the Geelong lines be more direct into Melbourne too.

    My only two gripes are,
    #1, It is not Standard gauge.
    #2, No link between Werribee and Geelong.

  2. 2
    Jacob says:

    They have not released a future train timetable. So we dont know if people will be able to catch a diesel train from Sunshine to the city or will it be like Craigieburn where you can get off at Craigieburn but are not allowed to get on a Vline train going to the city.

  3. 3
    Daniel says:

    @Jacob, see http://www.danielbowen.com/2012/04/29/vline-timetables-circa-2021/

    Probable outcome is trains every 15 minutes off-peak, and 8 trains an hour peak (half stopping at the new stations, half not). It’s unclear what the boarding conditions might be – I’d bet that similarly to other V/Line services, they will be restricted to those going to/from V/Line-only stations.

    None of the material suggests Geelong line trains will regularly stop at Sunshine.

  4. 4
    Tom the first and best says:

    Only East Malvern-Glen Waverley opened in 1930. Darling-East Malvern opened in 1929 using existing track of the old connection between Darling and Waverley Road on the Outer Circle (electrified and presumable significantly upgraded after well over 30 years out of use).

    The Albion-Southern Cross section is a track amplification. For that section to qualify as a new line then the extra pair of tracks from South Yarra to Richmond build when Richmond was upgraded in the 1950s as well as extra track pairs built for the city loop.

    It could also be argued that the Westona section is a deviation rather than a new line.

  5. 5
    Jacob says:

    Thanks for the info Daniel.

    So your April 2012 post says, if I read correctly, there will be 8 + 5 + 3 trains per hour on the RRL.

    A total of 16 tph. The new pair of tracks should be able to accommodate 25-30 tph.

    That spare capacity could be used to run a new metro-style service from Wyndham Vale to the City using diesel trains, stopping all stations in between, and reduce overcrowding on the electric trains.

  6. 6
    Daniel says:

    @Jacob, yes, the max in a single hour in peak would be 8 from Geelong, 5 from Bacchus Marsh, 3 from Kyneton.

    But that’s just the probable initial (well, first few years) service pattern – the actual line capacity should be higher. I’ve also got some figures on the increased capacity on the suburban lines. Watch for a post later in the week on this.

  7. 7
    Steve says:

    I know this is an older post, but I was looking for somewhere to vent.
    I cannot help but notice that the comments here refer to the RRL V/Line tracks. There is no discussion of the impacts on actual suburban trains.
    There would, for example, be little point in adding a metro-style diesel service to the RRL track to ease congestion on the electric lines, because for the most part the track by-passes suburban stations.
    RRL makes much of the increased capacity on the Sunbury line as a result of the separation of services, but I have not been able to find information on whether the new trains needed have actually been purchased, and any sign of the proposed new Metro timetable to make use of them. Does anybody know where I can find this information? A timetbale would be particularly useful as it would show where any benefits are actually realised.
    If the benefits of the new lines flow to the regions, that’s great, but it doesn’t mean we are getting a new “suburban” train line. It does not even guarantee we are getting improved services to existing users.

  8. 8

    […] line, extended from East Malvern and opened in 1930 (and the last big suburban rail project until Regional Rail Link opened in 2015), there are no level crossings, and it’s a mix of rail over and rail […]

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