News from London is that they are planning 24-hour Tube services on five lines from 2015 at weekends.
It’s tied to a grand plan which will also see staff taken out of ticket offices (in favour of helping customers more directly, for instance with ticket machines), more Wifi on stations, and contactless bank card (eg Paypass) payments.
All interesting, but let’s focus on the all-night trains.
Running all-night services on weekends only is an interesting balance between meeting big city passenger demand, helping late-night economic growth, and still allowing time for maintenance — which can still happen on weeknights.
Could we do it in Melbourne? Would we do it in Melbourne? Nightrider buses might well be adequate for demand on weeknights (but don’t even run at present), but on weekends (Friday and Saturday nights) are frequently swamped with users. Particularly on the busiest lines, and particularly over summer, trains would cope better with the loads.
Here’s the interesting thing: early planning for all-night weekend trains appears to be already be under way.
For such a thing to happen, there’s any number of factors that would need to be carefully planned — maintenance regimes, rosters for drivers, signalling and support staff, stations, PSOs…
One obvious step is ensuring that any future development on the rail network doesn’t get in the way of it.
The planning for Southland station includes such a clause. In a document obtained via FOI by The Age, the requirements clearly state that the infrastructure should allow for a future timetable with trains running 4:30am to 1am on weekdays, and “Friday 0530 through to Monday 0200” — in other words, continuous services from Friday morning through to late Sunday night.
It doesn’t mean 24-hour weekend trains will be starting any time soon, nor that they would necessarily run on every line — a more likely initial outcome is the busiest lines only, where Nightriders don’t cope.
But it does appear that the early planning for it is happening now within PTV — ensuring that no new initiatives get in the way of doing it in the future. Great to see it’s on their radar.
Want to see it happen? Then get busy making your voice heard in the media and with your local MP.
- Update 19/1/2014: Labor have announced all-night weekend trains (plus some trams and buses) if they are elected at the state election in November 2014
- Night Network commenced as a trial in January 2016, and was made permanent in April 2017