Why the Frankston line should come out of the Loop until 2025

I’m sorry to go all Neville Shunt on you and drone on about railway timetables again, but I’m going to do it anyway.

In an ideal metro system, that is a rail network designed to maximise capacity and frequency, one of the key things is to separate the busiest lines so they don’t share tracks.

Melbourne has been making that transition, but it’s time for the next step.

With that in mind, let me tell you why the Frankston line should be removed from the City Loop.

Carrum train arriving at Flagstaff

How the Frankston line runs now

Like many of Melbourne’s rail services, the Frankston line is a bit of a mess.

It’s often delayed and overcrowded, and that’s partly due to the timetable.

Here’s how it runs at the moment:

  • Weekday AM peak: about half the trains run express Cheltenham-Caulfield, Malvern-South Yarra, then direct to Flinders Street. The other half run all stations then into the Loop anti-clockwise to Flinders Street.
  • Weekday PM peak: reverse of the above. Except that expresses don’t stop at Malvern.
  • Weekday off-peak: all trains stop all stations, direct to/from Flinders Street. Almost all services are through-routed to Newport, so also run via Southern Cross and North Melbourne.
  • Weekend: trains stop all stations, into the Loop anti-clockwise to Flinders Street.
  • Saturday/Sunday early morning (all night service): trains stop all stations direct to/from Flinders Street

Confused yet? That’s five variations, excluding stopping patterns.

Apart from confusion, a huge problem is that during peak hours, when the rail network is at its busiest, half the Frankston line trains share the Loop tunnel with the Dandenong line. Two of the busiest lines on the network are squeezed onto the same track.

In 2025, the Dandenong line will move out of the City Loop into the new metro tunnel. The Frankston line will then use the City Loop for all its services.

But until then, the Frankston line should come out of the Loop.

Here’s why.

PTV train map August 2018

1. Fix the confusion

Train lines with different stopping patterns at different times of the day/week are confusing. The change of Loop direction doesn’t help, of course.

It’s particularly confounding for users who either only occasionally use the network, or who don’t always travel at the same time of day.

Just ask anybody making a cross-town trip (say Bentleigh to Spotswood) where they should change trains for the quickest journey:

  • Morning peak: travelling east to west change at Southern Cross; west to east change at Flinders Street (but you might not need to change)
  • Evening peak: travelling east to west change at Flinders Street; west to east change at Southern Cross
  • Weekday off-peak, including evenings: no change, the train will probably go straight through
  • Weekend: travelling east to west change at Southern Cross; west to east change at Flinders Street

Another example from me personally: Flagstaff is my usual stop, closest to work, so I use that if the train goes there. But if the trains aren’t running through the Loop, Flinders Street is almost as close (an extra five minutes walk). This means that if I’m heading home outside peak hour, I have to look at the timetable to check when the Loop trains run, which then determines which station I walk to. It shouldn’t be this hard.

Consistency is one of the keys to making public transport easier to use. They don’t for instance run half of tram route 58 via William Street and half via Swanston Street. They shouldn’t do this with the trains either.

The peak express trains make sense to speed up long journeys and make use of the Caulfield-Moorabbin third track, but the Loop variations should be removed.

Dandenong line, Monday evening

2. Run more Dandenong trains

Each City Loop tunnel can take a train about every 2-3 minutes. To make the Frankston line trains fit into the Loop, the Dandenong line timetable has gaps.

The Dandenong line serves a huge growth area. It’s really busy and getting busier. The gaps create an irregular frequency which means some trains are more crowded than others.

Currently a third of Caulfield Loop paths are given to the Frankston line (on roughly a 9 minute cycle). Giving the Loop tunnel over to the Dandenong trains exclusively would allow a more consistent frequency, allowing all the paths to be used, with a train every 3 minutes between the City and Dandenong, better catering for patronage demand.

Some gaps would still needed to fit the V/Line trains, but this is only 2 paths per hour, not the 6-7 per hour the Frankston line currently takes.

X'trapolis trains at Flinders Street

3. Run more Frankston trains too

Untangled from the Dandenong line, they could also run more Frankston line trains. Currently in peak these are tied to the same 9 minute cycle (2 trains every 9 minutes).

Freed from this, they could increase to fully use the capacity of the line, relieving crowding at the height of the peak.

How many extra services are possible depends on the operating pattern, but theoretically you could be looking at a train about every 3 minutes – again, a 50% boost – if the express trains had a couple of additional stops – perhaps a skip/stop pattern between Caulfield and South Yarra – or just stop all those trains at the MATH stations and give the inner city a high frequency service to relieve the crowding.

Delayed Frankston line train diverted out of the Loop

4. Reduce delays

The current interaction of the Frankston and Dandenong lines means that if one is delayed, both are delayed.

In fact the delays can easily flow across more than half the rail network.

There are currently timetabled interactions between numerous lines: in peak hour, Dandenong interacts with Frankston, which interacts with Werribee/Altona Loop/Williamstown, which interacts with Sunbury, which interacts with Upfield and Craigieburn.

The Sunbury, Werribee, Frankston and Dandenong lines also mix it with V/Line services from Bendigo and Gippsland.

As Metro’s network planner Huw Millichip noted in this ABC article last week, this means that the single track in Altona affects half the network.

“For example, a train out of Altona is one of the first trains we timetable because that one’s very constrained because of the way it needs to work through the Altona loop because it’s a single-line section. When that train gets to North Melbourne, it then effectively dictates the position of all the other trains that come through North Melbourne.”

Add the Cranbourne single track as well, and no wonder there are constantly delays in peak hour!

Some of those intertwinings are not easily severed until the metro tunnel opens in 2025, but Frankston and Dandenong can be separated now, reducing the effect of late running.

Metro alert 18/2/2019: Frankston trains bypassing the City Loop

5. No more surprise Loop bypasses

Frankston trains are regularly altered to bypasses the City Loop. Metro does this to reduce Newport/Frankston delays cascading onto the busy Dandenong line.

Statistics from PTV show that in the past 12 months, 587 Frankston trains were altered to bypass the Loop, or about 10 per week.

The Pakenham and Lilydale lines had more bypasses. But most Frankston trains aren’t scheduled to run via the Loop anyway – I calculate the bypasses to around 3.7% of scheduled Frankston Loop services – more than double the number of any other line.

Spontaneous changes like this play havoc with passengers, and add to pressures at interchange stations like Richmond.

In the PM peak, Loop bypasses often mean people miss their trains home, delaying them even more, and causing crowding on other services.

If Frankston trains never ran via the Loop, some people would have to change trains, but others would adapt their travel patterns to avoid the Loop in the first place.

In fact, so many Frankston trains are bypassing the Loop that people are getting used to it.

When my morning train is altered to bypass the Loop (for instance, yesterday), I see fellow regulars who usually go to Flagstaff who are (as I am) staying on to Flinders Street and walking from there. That to me says for many people it’s already a regular thing.

Train diverted out of Loop - still plenty of people wanting Flinders Street

7. Patronage won’t suffer

The same thing happened on the Sandringham line (removed from the Loop in 1996) and the Werribee line (removed 2008). People adapted their travel patterns. Those lines are now busier than ever.

Watch the Sandringham line at Richmond – many people change to the Loop, but more people stay on it to Flinders Street.

Of course nobody likes losing their one seat ride, but history has shown that in the long term, these types of changes allow a lot more trains to run, fewer delays – and that helps get more passengers on board.

This is precisely how most big city metros work. Think of London Underground: interchanges galore enabled by frequent services.

Flinders Street Station, February 2019

Caveats

There are some essential measures that need to accompany making all Frankston trains run direct:

  • They must run through to/from Southern Cross, every service, without fail. This ensures people headed to the west end of the City (and North Melbourne and beyond) have the confidence that they don’t need to change service.
  • Trains passing through Flinders Street need to move through without any delays for layovers or timekeeping or driver changes.
  • Dandenong line services have to be boosted to fill the void – this means both paths in the Loop, and capacity for those people who do need to change trains
  • Interchange facilities at Caulfield and Richmond need to be improved. At Richmond they’ve improved the shelter and the Passenger Information Displays in the past few years – the same is required at Caulfield. And in the longer term, Richmond needs a widening of the central subway; Caulfield probably needs an additional concourse – which will also be needed once the Metro tunnel opens.
  • To make full use of the Dandenong line capacity, the Cranbourne line needs full duplication

In a dream world, there’d also be cross-platform interchange between Loop and direct trains, but that’s a huge complicated undertaking.

More immediately achievable is that all day frequency also needs to improve. These lines do quite well at most times of day, but evenings and early morning need attention, and running more lines at 10 minute (or better) frequencies all day would help people get around all of the network.

Metro tunnel construction in the City Square

The time to do it is now

This can’t wait until 2025 when the metro tunnel opens.

Fortunately, the planets have aligned. 2019 is the perfect time to get the Frankston trains out of the Loop, because:

  • all the level crossings out to Dandenong are gone, so the line can now be filled with trains to make the most of capacity. Before now, it would have locked up the local road network, and prevented people at places like Hughesdale and Clayton even getting to the stations
  • extra trains are coming into service in the next few months as the first HCMTs come online, so the fleet is set to grow in size
  • Frankston is a politically sensitive line, but we just had a state election, so the government can have some confidence that any change now will give grumpy people a chance to get used to it, and reap the benefits from reduced delays and increased capacity, before the next election
Crowded train, Frankston line

It has to happen

Ultimately, moving Frankston trains out of the Loop will cause some inconvenience and consternation – even if only for the 6 years until the metro tunnel opens.

But Melbourne is growing fast, and we’ve moved a long way from the days when every rail line on the network could squeeze through the four tracks in the Loop.

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below – but remember, the public transport system is run for the benefit of everyone, not just you personally.

A change like this about making the overall rail service more reliable, cutting delays and unplanned bypasses, and better using the capacity to its fullest, to cut waiting times and overcrowding.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment. You can subscribe via feed reader RSS, or subscribe by email. You can also Follow me on Twitter, or Like the blog on Facebook.

35 Replies to “Why the Frankston line should come out of the Loop until 2025”

  1. 100% agreement from me.

    I’m a regular user of Frankston express services, that run direct to Flinders Street, even though my destination for many years was either Melbourne Central or Parliament. The time saved on an express service meant I had to change trains to get where I wanted to go. But changes were easy – either at Richmond, where City Loop trains depart from Platform 8 with exceptional frequency, or the slower option at Flinders Street where City Loop trains depart from Platform 1.

    I have also been a Sandringham Line regular, and your observations about that line are correct. Demand for City Loop destinations is not any lower amongst Sandringham Line passengers. They’ve just adjusted their travel patterns and it’s become a normal part of life to change to get where they want to go. Some people change at Richmond, many more change at Flinders Street. The regular weekday Flinders Street direct pattern of the Sandringham Line is a thing of simple beauty. (Don’t get me started on the weekend Sandringham Line City Loop anomaly – that’s another story.)

  2. I can see your points but I would hate to lose frankston loop trains. It would add 5-10 mins to what is already a drawn out trip to Bentleigh stopping all stations.
    Interchanging at Richmond can be very tedious and often we can’t get on the first loop train that arrives, meaning trudging down the subway to another platform.
    I can see it would be less inconvenient if both dandenong and frankston trains arrived on the same island platform so interchange woukd be much easier. It seems to work really well on platform 7 and 8 in the morning

  3. Yes, for all the reasons above, and in the service of us Westies; it’d be great to be able to reliably jump on and know you’re being routed through to Richmond. At the moment, on weekdays, the display always says “Flinders St”, and you’re left to guess whether it will actually form a Frankston service (am I right in thinking that, generally, trains that originated at Werribee do run through, but Laverton and Williamstown don’t? Bit weird, requiring a knowledge of where the train originated in order to guess its destination). Would also be great for accessing the sports precinct on weekends, which currently necessitates changing for everyone who comes through North Melbourne.

  4. 100% agree as a Frankston line customer, it’s so confusing. On a different note, today the 801am and 819am stopping all stations Ormond to Flinders st were cancelled today, wouldn’t it have made sense to alter the empty express trains to stop all stations? I feel sorry for the people at hawksburn who can’t get on.

  5. @Arthur: As far as is known, PTV and Metro are for this, because it had been planned for 2015 (along with a bunch of other upgrades) when Regional Rail Link opened, and was only blocked by the (then new, possibly nervous) state government. In particularly, it appeared the Frankston line change enabled extra Werribee trains. See my blog from the time and also this Age article.

    @Belinda M: Yes it would add a few minutes to change at Richmond. An alternative is changing at Caulfield, which a number of people already do – then you’re making back much of that time on an express, even if your chances of a seat are near zero! The increase in train frequency and the reduced delays would also save time.

    The other option is to consider your final destination. Walk or tram from Flinders Street or Southern Cross might be quicker/easier.

  6. Daniel
    as a Sandy line passenger, I disagree with you and Michael Bell.
    Changing trains or modes in a single journey is a pain in the a$$. Definitely not a thing of beauty.
    Motorists don’t have to do this – that’s one reason they drive and don’t use PT.
    However, due to congestion, etc, I accept that some painful aspects of PT need to be shared across users..

  7. Changing trains is how actual metro systems work, and it’s the frequency of services and the ease of moving between lines at stations that makes the changing far easier than is suggested by the transfer penalty coefficients usually fed into utility functions. Even with Melbourne’s decidedly non-metro system, I change twice daily at Richmond and it usually works very well. I see hundreds of other people do it, too.

  8. They should probably do the exact opposite of what they are doing now. That is, run off-peak Frankston trains through the loop while taking peak Frankston trains out, in order to run more Pakenham trains and alleviate crowding. It’s quite inconvenient to change at Richmond and surely if they can manage on weekends, they could do so on weekdays too? Not only would fewer people have to change trains, but those that do would not have to wait as long, particularly late at night.

  9. The easiest way for afternoon City Loop commuters to access stations on the Frankston line beyond Caulfield is to take a Dandenong-bound train from a City Loop station, express through the MATH stations and change at Caulfield. I’ve done it and many others alighted and walked to the Frankston line platform for the choice of the next stopping or semi-express Frankston train.

    This won’t work in the morning because the peak is tighter and more crowded, and Dandenong line trains don’t even have room for passengers from Carnegie, let alone Caulfield. To relieve overcrowding here more Westall short starters are needed, which should provide room for City Loop passengers from Caulfield (Frankston line) and South Yarra (Sandringham line).

    With the new office development around Southern Cross Station, this is becoming almost as important as a destination as the City Loop underground stations, so we could expect that reliable through-routing of Frankston trains to the west would cater for nearly 40% passengers who would otherwise change onto a City Loop service. Patronage stats for 2017/18 are Southern Cross 18.6m, Melbourne Central 15.9m, Parliament 10.2m, Flagstaff 4.7m, so Southern Cross is 37% of the total.

    Source: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1E1sDXTMRQ9uXYQdV6XAO0W2iZA8f54v2/view

  10. @Simjapo:
    In the inter peak, Laverton and Williamstown trains through-route with Frankston and Werribee trains terminate at Flinders St. I *think* it’s the opposite in the peak, though it might be a little more complicated.

    As to the blog post, I agree wholeheartedly with you, Daniel. I’d add that I’d love to see consistent stopping patterns through the city stations on all lines all the time: no more loop reversal, no more different patterns on weekends. There’s an element of selfishness, I’ll admit – Flinders St is the closest station to my workplace, and this would cut my travel time coming in from Footscray on weekends, or getting a Sunbury train home in the evenings on weekdays – but I think the simplicity gained would be of benefit to everyone’s understanding of the network, as well as operationally.

  11. This is somewhat unrelated but it would be really cool to have an interchange ability on the PTV map, so you could type in your interchange station and your destination and find out every option (is it worth running to platform 1, or should I take my time and walk to 7, etc.). I find that getting off at Richmond and changing for the city loop is often a guessing game as to which platform to go to. It would be nice to quickly find out what was going on while on the previous train, with real-time information and what not.

    Otherwise, I agree. The Frankston line should undoubtedly be taken out of the loop. I would argue all of the time. Have a continuous through-routed Werribee/Laverton/Williamstown to Mordialloc/Cheltenham/Carrum/Frankston service. Would ease a lot of confusion, and allow West Melbourne to be utilised more on weekends as an interchange.
    We should also start talking about city loop reconfiguration. Might as well get the planning done now.

  12. I like that a number of the Frankston trains are also cross-town service to Williamstown and Werribee. I think this should be a consistent thing, and keep them to run only on platforms 8, 9 and 10 for predictability and to not tie it up with other lines.

    The only drawback is that if there are any issues with either of these lines, it’ll hold off the other. But if they stick to those platforms above, I don’t it would be hard to temporarily severe the link and just shunt the trains back to where they just came from rather than go cross-town.

  13. Regarding cascading delays, impact to the Northern Group can also affect Burnley group services using platform 4 at Flinders Street; and if that delay happens at just the wrong time, it could also impact the Clifton Hill group when some Burnley trains are scheduled to arrive in Flinders Street platform 1, or some Clifton Hill group trains in Platform 2.

  14. Consistency is great for helping people understand and use a system. I love that the Clifton Hill loop always runs in a clockwise direction making the loop stations always accessible from Flinders Street and Southern Cross. Similarly whichever line runs through the Caulfield loop should permanently run in an anti-clockwise direction to give access to Flinders Street and Southern Cross from the loop stations at all times. It might not be popular initially, but there is always opportunity to change trains at Richmond or Caulfield for direct services. It’s puzzling that the city loop is at it’s most accessible only on weekends when these loops run in this pattern.

  15. @Reuben Silveira

    The middle subway at Richmond shows next trains to Flinders and City Loop on the screens. No guessing, no running,

  16. This is all long overdue.

    Daniel are there any details you can share about the rumoured new timetable on March 31 and whether this will be part of it?

  17. If the Pak/Crnbrn/Dandy pm loop trains express to Caulfield arrived just before a Frankston train (rather than at the same time as is often the case now), then no Loop Frankston trains wouldn’t be an issue.

  18. An all-day anticlockwise direction in the City Loop for the Caulfield Group would reduce a lot of other problems in the CBD
    – reduce pressure on east-west trams to access Southern Cross Station, because a Caulfield Group train would be quicker and more reliable from Parliament and Melbourne Central, to connect to Vline or Werribee line services
    – reduce pressure from Vline passengers using Sunbury trains from the City Loop and connecting at Footscray, because a Caulfield line train to Southern Cross would give them more chance of getting a seat
    – reduce pressure on Swanston St trams for passengers from Melbourne Central for passengers accessing services that commence at Flinders St

  19. @Nick/Pierre – there’s a rumour going around that seems to have originated from a Railpage post. It includes lots of very worthwhile service upgrades.

    My sources indicate that unfortunately, there’s nothing in it. It’s not happening. Someone somewhere has perhaps heard about some ideas that are under consideration and assumed they’re actually funded and happening.

    @Malcolm, I think the big problem with changing the direction of the Burnley and/or Caulfield Loops to be consistent is going to be peak demand between Parliament and Richmond. Most trains between those two points are packed in peak.

  20. You’ve summarised my concerns why the proposed 2015 implementation as being too soon & that they delay was not solely political – not enough rolling stock and too many crossings to boost the Dandenong Line frequency to off-set the reduction of trains in the Caulfield Loop, particularly in the PM peak.

    Once the HCMTs start coming online not only can more trains be timetabled, but there will also be more room to fit more passengers from the loop. So time to look at it again.

    One benefit that is sometimes forgotten is still how busy Flinders St is despite the loop stations.

    A work colleague commutes Armadale – Flinders St to our office near Queen St / Collins St and finds it frustrating if she travels in the height of the peak, as after squeezing on the all stations train she then has to do it all again at South Yarra or Richmond to find a direct train or otherwise waste 10 mins going right around the loop (for her that doubles her 15 min commute to nearly half an hour, and that assumes not getting stuck on the viaduct waiting for a platform). Often she’ll wait to the end of the peak instead when the trains aren’t as crowded and trains start to go direct again.

    Those for the inner half of the Frankston line working in Southbank or along St Kilda Rd would similarly prefer the train didn’t take them around the CBD first.

    As a Frankston Line user, there are numerous things can cause confusion at the moment – knowing the timetable well I often forgot to the read the PIDs entering Flinders St, and then have to remind myself if I should go to platforms 6+7 or 8+9 depending if its a weekday or weekend. (PIDs in the Elizabeth St subway would help this too)

    Less frequent users may mistake the “Frankston” all stations train on platform 6+7 the fastest way home in the PM peak, and end up going around the loop & then all stations. Oops, they get home 15 – 20 mins later than had they taken the express on 8+9.

    Similarly, in the mornings some would learn the hard way to let the all stations services go – you can arrive Flinders St some 18 mins later than an express if you aren’t careful, despite getting on an earlier service! Compare the 06:32 & 06:36 ups for example.

    On weekends in the loop most will naturally go to platform 2 at the loop stations for a one-seat ride home, but the more savvy will go to platform 4 for a train to Richmond and get the service 10 mins earlier.

    I was quite impressed one evening when the screens at Parliament directed me to Flinders St on a northern loop train and I had 3 mins to spare to my Frankston train left – saving me the half an hour that I was dreading!

  21. What is your view on the Werribee Line on weekends Daniel?

    My preference would be the inter-peak pattern applies all day on weekends, with 20 mins frequency to Werrribee, Laverton & WIlliamstown for now.

    Someone going to a game at Marvel Stadium or connecting with a Skybus is sent via both the Altona Loop and City Loop on weekends only – for them the 34 min trip on weekdays blows out to about an hour, at a time when the Westgate Bridge is flowing OK and V/Line trains from Wyndham Vale still take under 40 mins.

    There would a lot of marketing potential in the outer west to promote faster weekend trips (We’re making trips faster so you can spend 15 mins more at the game/arts centre/Fed Sq/Moomba etc) to encourage choice users that could lead to a frequency boost to 10 mins in the medium-term.

    And there are further benefits in a one-seat ride to Richmond and South Yarra from the west with the sporting/event precinct, Chapel St etc

  22. The 2 caveats themselves would solve a number of problems

    @They must run through to/from Southern Cross, every service, without fail. This ensures people headed to the west end of the City (and North Melbourne and beyond) have the confidence that they don’t need to change service.

    Trains get to Flinders St, then totally change and go elsewhere. You see the train that it was to become depart as you arrive.

    @Trains passing through Flinders Street need to move through without any delays for layovers or timekeeping or driver changes.

    Think this is a union thing. They can only do one run on a line per day. (I believe) Whilst pro Union, why cant the drivers stay on one route for the day?

    Frankston line cant be increased until the tram square at Glenhuntly is resolved. They are seemed to be timed to arrive both ways in groups, but if one is late, the tram can wait 15 min to cross.

  23. Ps. It was Route 38 that went up Williams Street during peak hour from Toorak, in addition to #8. But that was a time when each trip was paid for, not a time based ticket.
    3 inbound peak, 4 outbound.

  24. @Craig, yes, the inter-peak patterns should be replicated on the Werribee/Williamstown lines. That boosts capacity, cuts travel time, and gives one seat rides for Williamstown people.

    (I’d also tweak the peak patterns so Laverton/Williamstown trains stop at South Kensington instead of Werribee trains. That would make the patterns consistent between peak and off-peak. The only issue then is evenings.)

    Yesterday (Sunday afternoon) the Westgate was crawling inbound – there’s no shortage of travel demand on weekends – just a shortage of public transport.

  25. agree 100%. Melbourne trains are a shambles. Everytime I travel from the airport to Frankston, it is different random nonsense.

    Last week, at Southern Cross, the train was supposed to be going to Frankston via Flinders, and stopping only at Caulfield between south Yarra and Cheltenham.

    At Flinders Street, I glanced out of the window and was lucky enough to see that the train was now going to be all stops to Frankston via Flagstaff. While the train on the next platform was going to be semi-express direct towards Frankston ! Thanks for that , Metro ! I got off and changed trains, hardly anyone else did.

    And it should always be possible to catch a train from Parliament to Richmond, and Richmond to Parliament. Three of the last five times I tried, “you can’t get there from here”.

  26. As a resident of Werribee I agree that something needs to change. While I understand there are historical reasons for some of the timetabling and stopping patterns in use, it is surely time to bite the bullet and start to make some permanent changes that may inconvenience a few but benefit the majority.

    Werribee has the following confusing city bound patterns:
    > First 4 weekday trains are stops all stations via the Altona loop
    > The 5th service of the day stops all stations except South Kensington
    > Then we head into the normal pattern of the day of expresses going Laverton to Newport to Footscray (with a stop to pick up 3 people at South Kensington… ok maybe not 3 people but seriously why us?)
    > Then at 6.58pm there is suddenly another stops all stations via the Altona loop before two more expresses and then the rest of the night is stops all stations again.

    None of these go through the City Loop…. until we hit the weekend and then suddenly they do!

    Outbound is just as confusing with the weekday service starting as stops all station via the Altona loop before heading into the normal express pattern of Footscray to Newport to Laverton.

    However, there are a few anomalies thrown in of Werribee bound trains starting at Laverton!

    Where this really gets annoying is that the outbound express services stop at 7pm… which is hardly late. So if you get the 7.01pm from Flinders Street you can get to Werribee in 40 mins. If you get the 7.04pm from Flinders Street you get there in 49 mins. If you ever see someone running for their life through Flinders Street station at 7pm, you now know why.

    The frequency also drops at this time, so that the roughly 10 minute service becomes a 20 minute service. So your journey can be lengthened by roughly 20 minutes depending on which train you get. Your 40 min journey with a 10 minute maximum wait becomes a 49 minutes journey with a 20 minute maximum wait.

    So what is a solution. Well, I can’t speak for everyone but I would have to say that most people along Werribee, Altona and Williamstown lines see their train services as quite distinct. Having grown up in Altona, I never saw myself as part of the Werribee area and I would say that most Werribeans don’t see Altona as part of their neighbourhood.

    The split in these lines that happens during weekdays should be made permanent. A bit like Sandringham and Frankston lines are seen as totally separate lines, Werribee should be given a distinct identity and stopping pattern that separates it from the Williamstown/Altona loop (Laverton) lines.

    So while Altona loop and Williamstown trains terminate and start at Flinders Street (platform 10/11) and then stop all stations to the end of their lines, Werribee would become part of the Frankston Line with trains passing through the city via Flinders Street (platforms 8/9) and Southern Cross, then to North Melbourne to Footscray to Newport to Laverton then stops all stations.

    On maps the Werribee line should have a distinct different colour line showing interchanges at these points with the Williamstown/Altona loop line.

    I won’t pretend to fully understand all the complications and factors required to timetable but I do believe that sometimes standing back and thinking outside the box like I have done above or Daniel has done on the Frankston line would actually create more benefits that problems.

  27. Now, there is no problem on saturadays or sundays. You only need to fit in a train every five minutes, and, you have a train every 10 minutes to both Frankston and Dandenong.

    You may argue that, we do also need some short workings to Cheltenham and Westall. At two minute headways, you can operate five trains per 10 minutes.

    The only issue is peak hour. You can always reduce demand on the city loop, by having some services on both lines operating direct during peak hour only.

    Here is the interesting thing, I believe the HCMTs will not be permitted inside the city loop, as the loop will not be upgraded to suit their power demands. Once they enter service this year, more and more Dandenong group trains MUST run direct to Flinders Street anyway.

    Once the Sunbury line has been upgraded, why not start some cross city services between Dandenong and Sunbury via Flinders St and Southern Cross until the time of when the Melbourne Metro 1 is completed.

  28. Re:Urban-Planning-Student says:

    I support full time, through working on all of the cross suburban routes. This includes trains showing their other side destination all the way too.

    Perhaps Williamstown and Altona trains could through work with Sandringham, as well as Werribee with Frankston.

  29. The HCMT`s are only 7-cars to start with because that is the maximum size that will fit in the loop. They will run in the loop.

  30. Ah, but all the level crossings to Dandenong are not gone. Only the road level crossings. Most of the pedestrian ones are still there, removing these level crossings was “outside scope” of the level crossing removal project. Anyone on foot or bike crossing the lines already has longer and more frequent delays because the pedestrian gates shut earlier and for longer. If anyone wants to add even more trains into the lines then they’d better think seriously about removing the pedestrian level crossings, or just factor in a few more “delay due to person hit by train” when people are fed up with crossing gates shutting for 5 minutes at time with no visible trains and walk across the lines anyway

  31. Yes it would make sense for the Frankston/Sandringham lines to be true cross-town lines with Werribee/Laverton/Williamstown. Layover times at Flinders Street need to be eliminated, and the cross-town destination shown.

    Presumably this is how the Metro tunnel will work – trains will not layover between termini, and there is no turnback capability in the tunnel (which is why you need a turnback three stations out of the tunnel at West Footscray). This means that all trains from the east will run through to Footscray, some (depending on what happens to Footscray-Sunshine expresses) will run through to West Footscray. Similarly with whatever Eastern Turnback there is.

    The suggestion of running some Dandenong-Sunbury cross-town services via Flinders Street in the interim isn’t a bad idea, but presumably they’d need to share track space with the Frankston-Werribee services on the viaduct.

    On catching trains cross-town, I had to recently travel from Geelong to Mordialloc once a week for three weeks in the evening peak. Two out of three I changed to the 5.17 on Platform 13 at Southern Cross that went through to Mordialloc as an express (and was on the PID at Southern Cross as such). But the other time… train from Geelong was a few minutes late, so caught a train advertised to Flinders Street only, which turned into a Frankston all stations direct – so I stayed on it rather than work out where I should get the next express. Because the train had been altered to not run via the Loop, it sat between Flinders Street and Richmond for a fair while (obviously taking up platform space) and then waited at Richmond for a while as the timetable caught up. Ended up at Mordialloc about half an hour later than the other weeks, and should’ve just gone to Platform 12 after I got off at Southern Cross and caught a Dandenong train to Richmond! When it worked with the express, getting from Geelong to Mordialloc in just over an hour and 50 was OK.

  32. Can anyone tell me how many minutes the peak hour express from Frankston to Flinders street will be after 5 Sept? I understand this is when the express trains will resume? What stations does the train stop at. As far as I can see on the Frankston line currently, there are no express trains and they stop all station? I am looking to buy a property outside Frankston and am trying to work out the commute time!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.