Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The non Eddinton report post.

I was going to write a post on the Eddington Report but I have read so much about it I'm not sure what I think of it any more. Well, I think I'm against it, I'm just not sure why. Actually yes I do... (see what I mean)

I've read so many opinions on what needs to be done, I'm not sure what is original thought and what is not, I suspect I read most of this elsewhere. I'm just repackaging it. One of the best alternate proposals I've read so far is at Phin's blog, part one deals with the western side of the network while the future part two deals with the eastern side. So far so good, but from what I can see he is not totally dismissing the north-south tunnel , but sending it elsewhere.

What is my view on the Eddington report?

First of all I see public transport components of the report as nothing but a cover to get the road tunnel linking the Eastern Freeway and Citylink/Westgate Freeway/Western Ring Road approved. I imagine that as time goes along the public transport components will get scaled back piece by piece, just quietly drop off the agenda one by one until we are left with only minor changes to public transport. All the while the road project will bubble along nicely until completion. I hope that is not the case however and that the sensible suggestions go ahead (ie everything but the insane line from Werribee to Deer Park).

While thinking over the past few weeks I've come around to the view that we do need a sort of "clearways" project for Melbourne, the first steps of which are due to happen in the November timetable change with removal of Werribee trains from the loop in the peaks and the fixing of the direction of the Clifton Hill loop. I would like to see the Werribee line permanently out of the loop and the reaming loops to permanently travel in the same direction like the Clifton hill loop so that there are always two lines running in opposite directions. I suggest:

Clockwise- Clifton Hill and Burnley
Anti-clockwise - Northern and Caulfield

Most of the work needed to iron things out involve smaller, un-sexy projects that need doing to improve the flow of trains, these include things like building more flyovers at junctions, grade separation, re-signalling, extra platforms, new crossovers, straightening out junctions and old diversions of no longer existent infrastructure, as well as altering operational practices such as changing drivers at outer suburban termini instead of at Flinders Street, and cutting the dwell time at Flinders Street to that of a normal station. Then there is the complete rebuilding of major junctions and interchanges such as Caulfield and North Melbourne, which are more long term projects.

A cheap and cheerful short term fix is the addition of extra grab handles and bars to existing rollingstock. That would be most welcome. Other changes could be fitting lateral flip up seating at each end of each car to provide more standing room, such as that found at the driving ends of Siemens motor cars. I may be selfish, but I like having somewhere comfy to sit on the train, so I think this is a good compromise.

Longer term I think there should be a two tier service on all lines with inner suburban all stations trains and outer suburban expresses. This however relies on sorting out the other stuff first. Coupled with this I think through routing the outer suburban expresses through Flinders Street to the opposite side of the city (anyone remember the proposed "Flyer Trains" at the time of privatisation) would be a good move.


Phin said...

Hi Ben,

You're absolutely right - Eddington's report is very difficult to respond to. I think this is partly because there is simply so much being discussed at once, and partly because the dodgy costings see a massive amount of money apparently required - money which, as you say, could be spent on much less glamorous but ultimately better improvements.

I agree with your plan for a Sydney style rail clearways project - we really want to segregate most of the lines from one another and get rid of the bottlenecks caused by flat junctions and inadequate track, platforms, signalling etc.

Getting the loop in order with unidirectional running for each line (Caulfield and Clifton Hill clockwise and Northern and Burnley anti-clockwise) as well as getting Werribee out is also really important.

For the record, I support a north-south rail tunnel, but only as a segregated metro taking in the Upfield-Airport and Doncaster lines. Even then, the rest of the network needs to be working like an S-Bahn (at least 6tph all day) to get the benefits of interchanging. A north-south tunnel should not be used as an excuse to let the rest of the system rot away.

Proper, all day two tier services are a really good idea (I'll be looking into this in Alternatives to Eddington part two), but I think only really necessary for Ringwood, Dandenong and Frankston. On these lines it should be done properly, with 4 tracks to the stopper (metro) terminus.

Controversial as it is, taking out seats at the ends of cars has to happen - look at any metro worth having and it doesn't assume that short trips (<25 mins) should see all passengers seated. The Hitachis already have this arrangement and they cope with the crush loads much much better.

Anyway, I only just came across your blog - really good stuff - I'll put a link to it on my sidebar.


Anonymous said...

To cut rail congestion, one must look at the facts and tendencies of commuters. For instance, the Eddington report essentially ignores the vital fact that most people want to go to the CBD and not (as you so perfectly put it) between Tarneit and Werribee on a Vline Diesel.
Having got myself a hard copy of the report, it isn't hard to pick out flaws in the plans. Road funding is indeed higher than public transport (by some $1.3 billion) and there are some inane bus suggestions.

Overall, Sir Rod Eddington is either under the spell of the RACV/Kosky/IPA collective or is an utter idiot. Probably both.

Ben said...

Thanks for the comments Phin I've been enjoying your blog. I agree with the good point you raise about the north south tunnel being part of a segregated metro system. In my mind that is the only way to go. It's either a metro or it's not. I think Eddington is lifting expectations too high by calling it a metro tunnel, but having it connected to the existing suburban network.

Reuben, interesting point. Although to be fair I think Rod is saying that Geelong V/Line trains should be diverted via Tarneit to provide more paths for Werribee trains. Where this goes wrong is that he seems to think since the trains are going that way anyway it's a good idea to pick up extra passengers on already full trains. It's a bit like making V/Line trains stop all stations between Newport and Footscray...

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