On Sunday the Coalition pledged to upgrade more lines to trains every ten minutes off-peak.
Here’s the Channel 9 story – have a watch:
— Nine News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) March 26, 2017
There’s not much detail yet — nothing on David Hodgett’s web site that I can see (though it’s a bit broken; you can’t see news items beyond the first page). Nothing on Matthew Guy’s web site, nor the Liberal Victoria web site.
But from Hodgett’s quotes in the story, what they appear to mean is 10 minute services on every line where the infrastructure supports it – which is most of them.
This would have huge benefits across the rail network, and for the PT network as a whole, by making anywhere-to-anywhere trips much easier by cutting waiting/interchange times, and help grow capacity and patronage without putting extra stress on peak hour.
Given increasing travel (and traffic congestion) at what used to be seen as “off-peak” times in the middle of the day and on weekends, as well as our growing population, this is just what’s needed.
And it would bring us up to the type of train service offered in most big cities around the world.
It’s not actually that radical. PTV and Metro already have an unfunded plan for just such a rollout. It’s really a matter of timing.
The Libs never do anything for public transport!
Most of the 10 minute services we have now were actually introduced under the Coalition government in 2012. It was also under the Libs in 1999 that the appalling Sunday 40 minute services mostly got doubled to 20 minutes.
Both sides do good stuff and bad stuff. It’s certainly not as simple as saying Labor’s good at PT while the Coalition is bad. (Indeed, one sweeping and partly flawed generalisation is that Labor is better at infrastructure, and the Coalition is better at services.)
There’s no capacity for this!
This does not put stress on signalling, track capacity or the train fleet, because it’s off-peak, not peak. It does not need major infrastructure such as the metro tunnel.
It needs extra drivers, and extra maintenance capacity, as well as other running costs such as power.
It’ll cause chaos at local level crossings! It’ll devastate communities!
No it won’t. We’re talking about fewer trains than in peak, and at times of less traffic on the roads as well.
It doesn’t cause huge problems on the lines that already have it. And in fact improving train services like this is likely to get more people out of their cars, as long as they’re actually promoted to non-train users (which is rare).
There’s only one remotely sensible argument I’ve heard against doing this now (rather than later), and it’s this:
Is it the right time to be bringing lots more patronage onto the off-peak/weekend service when there are so many infrastructure projects in progress? Level crossing removals on most lines, track and signal upgrade works, works to enable new trains in some cases. It adds to stress on the replacement buses and doesn’t provide the best environment to win over customers permanently and produce ongoing travel pattern changes.
I think that’s a fair point, but there are likely to be works such as level crossing removals going on for decades, as hopefully this will be an ongoing program.
Perhaps one way of playing it is to implement frequency increases as lines get their worst level crossings removed. For instance:
- The Sunbury line for instance now has no level crossings between the city and Watergardens (apart from a minor crossing into a rail yard at Tottenham). And the line has no more crossings scheduled to be removed except Melton Highway, which will only effect the lesser-used outer end of the line.
- The Sandringham line has no crossing removals scheduled.
In fact, frequent trains can make life a lot easier when bus replacements are in operation. Buses are sometimes delayed by heavy traffic, and train connections not held. If the train is missed, it’s a lot better if the next one is only ten minutes away.
In the news clip, Labor claims to have introduced a large number of services since 2014. Not so. Barely any in fact.
I’d love to see this policy implemented. But before they definitely win my vote, I’m concerned as to what else the Coalition will pledge in their policy platform. They still seem obsessed with the disastrous East West Link.
Nonetheless, this is a great policy pledge from the Coalition. If Labor are sensible, they’ll match it.