The Regional Rail Link will be full the day it opens because the Baillieu government has not ordered enough trains to meet demand, according to a secret V/Line strategy report obtained by the Greens.
"People are crying out for much more frequent V/line services. But we can see in black and white that it can’t happen without a bigger government investment,” said Victorian Greens Leader Greg Barber.
“We will see in the May Budget if the Baillieu government will listen to V/Line’s advice or fail Victorians.”
“Since Ted Baillieu took charge, there's been no expansion of public transport for regional Victoria. Passenger numbers keep growing, but service levels don't.”
For comment: Greg Barber 9348 2622
* V/Line “Initial Strategic Operations Plan – 10 November 2011” Summary below. Greg Barber obtained the report under Freedom of Information.
Links to report: pages 1-9 (index + intro), pages 10-19 (statewide issues), pages 20-29 (statewide issues), pages 30-39 (South West), pages 40-449 (South West + West), pages 50-59 (West + North), pages 60-69 (North + North East), pages 70-79 (North East + East), pages 80-92 (East, service delivery, freight, human resources, priorities)
State-wide network issues
Regional Rail Link will be full the day it opens in 2016
- V/Line needs 67 new carriages to provide “a seat for all commuters” when the Regional Rail Link opens in 2016 (p. 22)
- But the Baillieu government has only ordered 40 carriages, to be delivered between 2014-2016.”
- The worst overcrowding will be on the new section of RRL track through the Tarneit to Deer Park urban growth area (pp 31-32, p.34).
Growth in population and demand will outstrip growth in service
- “Peak period demand will be met in 2012 but with little opportunity for further growth. … the Rolling Stock Procurement Plan highlights the importance of ordering trains in the 2012-13 budget cycle to cater for V/Line’s high patronage growth.” (p.15)
- “There is latent demand for services that has not yet been matched by supply in the peak. Therefore the increase in service level after RRL is expected to have a similar impact on patronage to the increase in services after the RFR [Regional Fast Rail] project where growth was considerable. “ (p.17)
Infrastructure lagging behind population growth and demand growth
- See individual train lines below
Funding deficit over time
- ‘a significant maintenance deficit across the network that has accumulated due to insufficient funding over an extended period of time. This funding shortfall continues with the proposed Deeper Level Maintenance (DLM) funding amounts for both 2011-12 and 2012-13 significantly lower than V/Line believes is required to meet service delivery requirements and contractual obligations under the RIL’ (p.83)
Potential for industrial issues
- ‘Further improvements (not yet quantified) could be made by changing existing restrictive rostering practices’ (p.85). The report then contains 11 cm of blank space from a redacted passage.
- Mobile coverage – the existing communication system ‘is life expired and requires replacement’ – p82
Traralgon / Gippsland
- Might have to start terminating peak-hour trains at Dandenong, putting Gippsland commuters on to suburban services which would be met with “str[o]ng resistance from V/Line customers”. (p.76)
- Poorest reliability of all V/Line services
- Long term solution is 4th track on Dandenong line at “very high cost and a long implementation period” (p.76)
- Lists infrastructure upgrades and lower cost work-arounds to improve service to Sale and Bairnsdale (pp.74-80, especially p.79)
- Flags benefits of commuter service to Sale (p.79)
- Flags conflict between coal export trains and V/Line (p.76)
Geelong (Marshall, Grovedale)
- Frequent service for Geelong following RRL (pp.30, 33)
- Geelong line will be overcrowded the day RRL opens between Melbourne CBD and Tarneit “The capacity provided in the peak hour as well as across the peak two hours will be insufficient to cater for the forecast patronage” (p.34)
- Until there are “significant infrastructure upgrades” (which are set out on page 34), “only some of the eight trains in the peak hour would originate at either South Geelong or Marshall. There would also continue to be only a single counter peak train to South Geelong.” (p.34)
- “We need a new stabling and maintenance facility past Grovedale, which will provide local jobs, and boom gates on six level crossings for safety, and to allow a faster train service.” (p.36)
Tarneit and Wyndham Vale
- Passengers will not be able to get a seat when RRL opens
- V/Line recommends additional “Wyndham Vale short starters to sweep the inner stations” (p.32) to give everyone a seat, but there are not enough new carriages ordered to allow for this (p.34)
Melton / Deer Park
- “The capacity to be provided is well short of being sufficient to cater for forecast demand so there will be standees on these services potentially from Melton”(p.45-46) the day RRL opens.
- “Services to stations at Rockbank, Deer Park and Ardeer are currently sparse and unattractive to users” (p.42)
- No news on provision of Caroline Springs station or Toolern station (p.43)
- Duplication / electrification to Melton needed to cope with growth and allow for improvements to Ballarat service, but V/Line in the dark about whether this will happen. Report contains two scenarios – duplication without electrification, duplication with electrification. There is no scenario for continuing without either. (pp.46-48)
- More station facilities and car parks needed, flags use of myki readers to restrict access to V/Line car parks only to commuters (p.46)
Ballarat / Wendouree
- RRL will provide only one additional train in the peak two hours from Wendouree/Ballarat, arriving in Melbourne between 7-9am in 2016. (p.45) There are three trains in that period on the current timetable.
- Trains will be overcrowded with people standing between Melbourne and Melton (pp.45-46)
- No further increase in Ballarat service frequency possible until duplication / electrification to Melton (pp. 46-48)
- If infrastructure upgraded, ultimate plan is 4 trains per hour in peak period in 2040.
Colac to Warrnambool
- Fourth daily service to Warrnambool not possible until Baillieu government commits to upgrading the Shepparton line to take modern trains, which would free up older locomotive-hauled rolling stock (p.40)
- Strong population growth in demographic that relies on public transport in Warrnambool and Colac (p.39)
- Flags peak our train to Colac, if bus trial is successful (p.39)
- Warrnambool station facilities “inadequate even for the current patronage level especially at peak times” (p.40)
- Fourth train could be provided on Sundays at low cost
- Upgrades to five crossings between Marshall and Warrnambool would speed up the trains
- No apparent plan to upgrade to modern trains
- 2 hour service is possible if crossings upgraded to take the new faster trains. (p.68)
- 25% population increase in Shepparton (p.67)
- Shepparton and Warrnambool competing for ancient clapped-out trains to increase the service (p.68)
- Peak hour train services are reaching capacity and won’t be able to cope with the forecast growth in Bendigo (p.53)
- Limited increase in service after RRL (p.54)
- “By 2018 the service frequency will have reached its maximum level” (p.56)
- Flags infrastructure improvements needed, including duplication and station upgrades (p.55)
- Commuter needs are not just Bendigo to Melbourne. Strong demand for Kyneton and Castlemaine commuter services to Bendigo. (p.54)