Taken around the loop

Upcoming timetable changes will lead to a more efficient use of rollingstock. But in past, passengers have been angered by what I think is a more robust service. The Age article below.

I expect there to be a huge (unnecessary) uproar, much like when Williamstown and Werribee had altered operation direct to Flinders Street.

City Loop is being operated in a way it shouldn’t be, and this is a step in the right direction to relieve congestion that exists through the inefficiencies which are inherent in the system.

Whilst the losses of City Loop services maybe a small issue, the long term gains through more reliable running, and significantly improved frequencies (which both Werribee and Frankston Lines both enjoy 10 minute super frequencies during off-peak). I call that a win.

The upcoming timetable change was also part of the contract created under the previous government. But there is still much to do, as more trains ordered from past have all yet to fully hit the tracks.

New timetable may anger some city train usersΒ 
Clay Lucas and Royce Millar

January 19, 2011

MELBOURNE commuters can expect a more reliable service but fewer trains through the City Loop under a shake-up of train timetables β€” to be phased in from May by the Baillieu government.

Clearly mindful of a potential political backlash only weeks into his role as Transport Minister, Terry Mulder yesterday confirmed he had backed a proposal by rail operator Metro that will cut its penalty payments but risk angering Melbourne’s frustrated public transport users.

Under the changes, three lines β€” Frankston, Werribee and Williamstown β€” will begin “cross-city running” at off-peak times, meaning they will run from Melbourne’s southern suburbs to the west, instead of terminating in the city.
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A five-page summary of the changes was written by the Department of Transport and obtained by The Age.

It is the first stage of a wider overhaul of all 15 of the city’s lines, to be completed by next year, according to the Department of Transport summary.

The timetable change will enable Metro to more easily schedule 38 new suburban trains ordered by the previous government β€” 17 of which are already in service β€” to begin running in the next two years.

But it will also mean hundreds of services each week will no longer run through the City Loop, and there will be fewer express trains on some lines at off-peak times.

Many Glen Waverley line commuters will be angered by the withdrawal of services from the City Loop until noon each day, while others on eastern suburb lines will have to change at Richmond because of the new timetable.

Mr Mulder said supporting the Metro scheme was a difficult decision.

He said Metro and his department had advised him the timetable changes were necessary for more punctual and reliable services. But he admitted they would not be popular with many commuters.

“There will be some inconvenience,” he said.

Appearing to want to hedge his bets on the changes, Mr Mulder stressed he inherited the situation because of agreements between Metro and the former Labor government.

“The introduction of a new ‘greenfields’ timetable was part of the contract the previous government entered into with Metro,” he said.

Under its $8 billion contract with the state government, Metro is required to devise a new timetable by May.

“I can only go on the advice that I have been given, and that is that untangling the network will provide more [routes] for trains, and do away with trains crossing one another when something goes wrong,” he said.

A new timetable also needed to create time slots for 38 new trains. Without a new timetable, “those trains will be parked”, Mr Mulder warned.

Metro chief executive Andrew Lezala said the existing timetable had been in place since 1996 but more services had been gradually added without a major review, making it cluttered and clumsy.

“We need to change the timetables, and design them from scratch so that they can work properly. We have spent a lot of money doing that,” he said.

The Age revealed yesterday Metro had posted a $20 million profit in its first seven months operating in Melbourne, despite failing punctuality targets set by the government in all seven months.

The new government’s nervousness about a major rework of the timetables may well stem from the high-profile role of public transport β€” trains in particular β€” in November’s state election.

The former Labor MP for Bentleigh and parliamentary secretary for public transport, Rob Hudson, told The Age after the poll that changes on the Frankston line had cost him his seat. “People were just furious that we had taken away all their part-express services,” he said last month.

Last night, Metro spokeswoman Geraldine Mitchell said full details of the timetable change would be made public in the first quarter of the year after all aspects were finalised.

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