If you used the Glen Waverley or Sandringham lines over the weekend, you might have got a pleasant surprise.
Both were running every 10 minutes for most of Saturday and Sunday — twice the usual frequency.
Because the Frankston and Dandenong (Cranbourne/Pakenham) lines were closed between the City and Moorabbin/Westall between Friday 8pm and Saturday 4pm.
The Dandenong line is also closed between Westall and Caulfield for the next two weeks as part of the big push to remove the final four level crossings as part of the skyrail project.
Both the Dandenong and Frankston lines usually run every 10 minutes between 10am and 7pm. As part of their replacement with buses during the works, some passengers were shuttled to the Sandringham and Glen Waverley lines by bus.
(Not that you’d have known any of this was happening if you relied on the online timetables or journey planners. PTV messed up their data feeds. Their own web site and apps were only updated with the closures on Friday afternoon, and downstream users of the same data never got the update. So if you relied on the Google Maps trip planner, you’d have been completely oblivious to the bustitution.)
Running more trains on the Sandringham and Glen Waverley lines was a great idea – to minimise delays for people coming off other lines, and to help the trains cope with the extra loads.
Apart from the official rail replacement buses, those using regular buses (or trams) to change lines also have benefited. One of my sons on Saturday decided to use the 703 from Bentleigh across to Brighton (12 minutes), then the Sandringham line (20 minutes), rather than catch a Frankston line replacement bus stopping all stations to the City (estimated 56 minutes). With half-hourly buses, and usually trains every 20 minutes, this would be potluck as to whether it worked. Trains every 10 minutes made the connection easy.
(Most stations have orbital cross-line tram or bus connections. Trams run at good frequencies every day; unfortunately buses don’t. Most are only hourly on weekends and evenings.)
People who usually use the Sandringham and Glen Waverley lines also got the benefit, though it’s doubtful that there was any patronage boost, since nobody knew about it. The only advertised change was that all trains ran direct to/from Flinders Street, not via the City Loop.
It looks like the doubling of services will happen again next long weekend, with both the Frankston and Dandenong lines shut down again from Moorabbin/Westall from Saturday to the end of Monday, for both grade separation (Dandenong line skyrail) and upgrades to accommodate the new High Capacity Metro Trains.