The week in transport

Monday 2015-12-14 — Delays on numerous Metro lines (Frankston, Cranbourne, Pakenham, Craigieburn, Sunbury, Upfield, Werribee, Williamstown) following late-running weekend rail works. If you watch the Brit rail docos, this is the sort of thing they are constantly stressing about, so it’s unfortunately but perhaps not a surprise that it sometimes happens here.

Monday 2015-12-14 — A Caulfield local is complaining about train horns approaching level crossings. My initial reaction was that obviously he wouldn’t have lived there since trains started running in 18xx, so why would he be complaining? But there are other factors; X’Trapolis train horns seem to be noticeably louder, and they’re about to hit the Frankston line in a big way. And do modern operational guidelines call for more use of the horn? Don’t know. But bear in mind the specific location is close to the Neerim Road (Frankston line) and Grange Road (Dandenong line) crossings, both of which are on blind curves when approached from the city. It is important to ensure trains are heard, if not seen, by people waiting at the crossings.

The complainant may not be delighted to know that from next week trains will run hourly all night on weekends. On the other hand, at least the Grange Road crossing is set to be removed in coming years.

Street art in Mckinnon

Monday 2015-12-14 — More detail came out about the tragic death of Mitchell Callaghan at Heyington station in early 2014. The court heard Mr Callaghan’s friends held open the doors as the train left the station, which allowed one young man to jump aboard safely. James Mulcahy, one of those holding the doors, told the court that moments later he “saw Mitch fall down the side of the train”.

Monday 2015-12-14 — Plenty of coverage of Tony Abbott’s involvement in the cancelled East West Link project, following the release of an Australian National Audit Office report. The Guardian’s opening sentences sum it up nicely:

The Abbott government inflated the deficit during its first year in power by transferring $1.5bn to Victoria for the East West Link despite โ€œclear adviceโ€ the payments were not yet needed, an audit report has found.

The government approved the funding even though it had received departmental warnings that neither stage of the Melbourne project had proceeded through a full assessment of its merits, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) said in the report issued on Monday.

Basically Mr Abbott played politics with $1.5 billion of taxpayers money.

Monday 2015-12-14 — More detail of proposed freight rail around the Port Of Melbourne has emerged, via concerns about increased freight traffic on local level crossings. The rail link would connect the Port with a freight hub at Altona, and is part of a project to also connect freight hubs at Somerton and Dandenong. It’s been funded $58 million, but for some reason hasn’t happened yet.

Tuesday 2015-12-15 — Public transport research hub opened at Monash. It’ll be interesting to see the type of stuff that comes out of this. There’s huge potential for research and development of new ideas which can bring benefits to passengers, operators, and the state as a whole.

Tuesday 2015-12-15 — Metro using track sensors to detect temperature fluctuations. They’ve also spelt out their speed restriction policies, as have V/Line. Yarra Trams has a good information page on using trams in summer, including explaining how the air-conditioning works.

The first really hot days have been Friday and especially Saturday. There were some speed restrictions imposed, but no mass cancellation of services as we’ve seen in the past. I suspect the huge investment in upgrades over the past few years has largely resolved the kinds of problems we saw in 2008-09.

Trivia: the Australian railways term for speed restrictions due to heat is WOLO. It’s not an acronym, it’s an old telegraph code which has managed to stay in usage well after Morse code has fallen out of use!

Southern Cross Station, trains arriving

Friday 2015-12-18 — An interesting read from The Age on “value capture” in rail projects, focussing on the Hong Kong practice, which MTR (part owners of Metro) is trying to bring to Australia.

Related: in a podcast I listened to this week, there was some talk of value capture only really working on previously undeveloped land.

Oddly the week was top-heavy… perhaps things are quietening down in the lead-up to Christmas, so not much seemed to happen towards the end of the week.

Full timetables for NYE were released. If you can navigate PTV’s confusing timetables online (they’ve grouped together Monday 28/12 to Thursday 31/12, but put in lots of exception codes), then you’ll see this presents some interesting quirks, as services out of the city after the fireworks (eg between about 12:30am and 1:30am) run more frequently on some lines than during a normal peak hour: Upfield every 15 minutes, Werribee including Altona Loop every 10 minutes.

In the case of Altona, to cope with the single track, they have some inbound trains bypassing the Altona Loop, meaning gaps of up to 45 minutes. It’d be quicker to go outbound to Laverton and then change. The Hurstbridge line peaks at every 20 minutes — a similar situation, with the single track running for a time in only one direction, which happens every peak hour.

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5 Replies to “The week in transport”

  1. Interesting Yarra Trams page about air con. I’d love to see and equivalent from Metro. Most evenings when I board the train at Southern Cross, it seems the air con is set to polar bear arctic temperatures. In the mornings, it feels like the air con kicks in part way into the trip, so you swelter boarding a stuffy train but have the chills by the time you reach the city. Drives me nuts.

  2. @Liz, that probably reflects whether the train has been in service (eg with the air con on) for a while before you board it or not. Some PM peak trains start off hot and sweaty too because they’ve been sitting in the yards all afternoon… others are nice and cool because they’ve been rolling around all day on off-peak services.

  3. Any clues why the E-class only cools to a fixed 10C below ambient? On a 45C day, that’s a cabin temperature of 35C – still very hot. I was on an e-class the other day that was hot, and humid as anything – I was really surprised for such a new tram, it felt even hotter than ambient outside (the higher humidity, probably).
    I can only think that the power on the network is inadequate the E-class plus robust aircon, otherwise it’d be some other formula that’s basically ‘dynamic adjustment of temperature/humidity to maximise comfort/minimise power, but never exceeding 28C’ or similar.

  4. On a hot day, I would MUCH rather get on a train that is ‘arctic cold’ (although I don’t think they can ever be enough on a hot summers day), than a tram. Most of the trams have no Aircon, and even the ones that do it can be hit and miss as to how well it works. The new E class trams are shockingly bad for such a new model. The trains are usually well air conditioned, except some mornings where the xtraps seem to not have it going cause the outside temperature is not hot enough, or on winter mornings when the heater is on far too high. The Siemens seem to have the best cooling and heating I find.

  5. Ok, I have now worked out that the [b] for bold does not work in this forum

    *** The Train horn issue ***

    May I question if we really need horns to be blown on protected crossings, especially where you have booms as well as lights. Waiters (Those who need to wait at the crossing for the train), should be well informed of the approach of a train, and now with modern cars and how they sound proof the interior from all external noises, I could almost wonder if the bell is also outdated too.

    Yes, sure use the horn where there is an unprotected level crossing, and there are some pedestrian ones on the Frankston line.

    *** The portlink issue ***

    That replacement link should have been put in, way back when they closed the original web dock railway.

    You know the now long closed railway that used to use that bridge over the yarra near the old Footscray road one. The new or replacement route should have been in place to take over the very day or day after its closure.

    Why the long wait?

    In fact, I would dare say, the old Webb dock link should not need to have been removed in the first place??

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