“InterCity” and “AirTrain”
The Rail Futures blueprint for faster and better regional trains in Victoria and re-balancing population growth
Presentation to Hume Corridor Rail Meeting
12 December 2017
John Hearsch and Peter Tesdorpf - Rail Futures Institute
What is Rail Futures?
Rail Futures Institute is an independent non-partisan group.
It was formed to advocate cost-effective rail and intermodal solutions for public transport and freight problems based on sound commercial, economic and social reasoning.
Rail Futures members include experienced rail professionals, engineers, urban planners and economists.
Three Key Propositions
1. Population growth needs to be rebalanced from Melbourne to regional Victoria.
2. A State of Cities requires well-defined development, population and land use policy integrated with transport strategy.
3. Investment in faster, more frequent and more reliable rail services is essential to enable and lead regional growth.
Balanced Population Growth
•Victoria’s population is expected to double to 10 million by 2050, with 8 million of those people in Melbourne
•Official figures show the imbalance between Melbourne and the regions will worsen by 2050 with unchanged policies
•Faster InterCity trains will shrink distance and extend the area with access to Melbourne and major regional centres for employment and other services like health and education
Regional Demands for Train Service Reinstatement and/or Upgrading
•RFR, RRL and VLocity investments demonstrated the strong impact of modern, faster (160 km/h max) train services
•These investments produced over 200% patronage increases and significant journey time reductions
•But communities beyond RFR generally receive service standards established in the 1980s (several, including the Albury corridor, are worse than 30 years ago)
•And those communities that are served by RRL, particularly on the Geelong and Ballarat corridors, now face the problems of success, such as overcrowding – driven mainly by massive growth in commuting from Melbourne’s west on lines that do not have their own metro service.
What is InterCity?
InterCity is Rail Futures’ proposal for developing a comprehensive faster and more integrated regional rail network, responding to three main aims -
- more balanced population growth,
- better connectivity and reduced journey times across the state, and
- meeting widespread demands for improved rail services throughout regional Victoria.
InterCity and AirTrain together provide a 30-year blueprint for a connected rail transport network providing speedy travel between Melbourne and regional Victoria that addresses the State’s transport needs to 2050 and beyond.
- To lead and support regional growth and development
- To significantly improve connectedness and support new economic activity
- To expand the area of regional Victoria with good access to jobs and services
- To significantly improve commuting journeys to Melbourne and, most importantly, journeys into regional centres
- To create a European-style rail network with greater service intensity and integration between transport modes
- To have rail travel competitive with travel times by car
- To ensure rail journeys are comfortable and allow the time to be used productively.
InterCity – main service objectives
- Faster rail services linking Southern Cross and major regional centres, with more 160 km/h and some 200 km/h operation.
- More frequent trains Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Seymour and Traralgon routes (4-6 trains per hour weekdays).
- Much improved service reliability by segregation of all regional trains from suburban trains.
- A 15 minute CBD to Airport AirTrain every 10 minutes.
- Easy to navigate Melbourne Airport hub served by regional rail and designed for future High Speed Rail.
- A fully connected network: air > metro rail > regional rail > regional coach
- New long distance trains for Warrnambool, Swan Hill, Albury, Bairnsdale lines and acceleration to reduce journey times.
- Reinstatement of Horsham and Hamilton train services, Cross-Country rail routes (Geelong-Ballarat-Bendigo), better coach services linking regional towns and cities and re-work the case for trains to Mildura.
Using rail to shrink distance is not a new idea, as this 1936 VR poster shows
InterCity proposals – an update
Our InterCity paper was launched in September 2016 by former Deputy Prime Minister, Tim Fischer. Since then there have been important positive developments:
- Emergence of local government rail advocacy groups
- Federal Government interest in regional rail development
- Significant Federal funding for Melbourne-Brisbane Inland Railway with implications for some Melbourne rail corridors and terminals
- Murray Basin Rail Project works underway
- Significant Federal and State Government 2016/17 budget funding for “Regional Rail Revival” of selected passenger services
- Federal and State Government funding of Airport Rail business case
- Major local government sponsored studies concluded for restoring services to Horsham and Hamilton and for upgraded train services to Shepparton and Gippsland
But much remains to be done
- No overarching Transport Plan for the regional rail and coach network as required by the Transport Integration Act 2010
- No plan to complete segregation of the regional rail network from the metropolitan rail network
- Serious overcrowding problems on the Geelong line and now emerging on the Ballarat line not being addressed
- Gippsland services very poor and no plan to address need for additional tracks to Dandenong
- Inadequate service frequency, slow trip times and old rolling stock on Seymour, Albury and Shepparton corridors not addressed
- Other long distance services (Swan Hill, Bairnsdale) not improved for many years – same rolling stock used for past 35 years
- No commitment yet for restoration of rail passenger services to Horsham and Hamilton while Mildura remains off the radar
Segregation of regional from metropolitan services is essential for InterCity implementation
- Geelong line - a new fast line from the CBD via Wyndham Vale
- Interfaces with extension of electrified metropolitan services to Tarneit and Wyndham Vale via Sunshine and Werribee
- Bendigo , Seymour/Shepparton lines and Albury lines - new fast lines via Melbourne Airport to Clarkefield and Wallan
- Interfaces with extension of electrified metropolitan services from Sunbury to Clarkefield and Craigieburn to key interchange at Wallan
- Ballarat and Gippsland lines – enables faster trips by:
- Extension of electrified services to Melton and Bacchus Marsh with track quadruplication between Sunshine and Melton
- Track quadruplication between Caulfield and Dandenong and an overtaking loop between Dandenong and Pakenham
- Ultimate extension of Melbourne Metro tunnels to Caulfield
Major challenges by corridor
Achievable trip times
The special case of the
- Last major service upgrade was the 1981 “New Deal for Country Passengers” with new rolling stock, additional services and faster schedules
- In 1987, the fastest Albury train was scheduled 3hr 25min, the slowest 4 hours
- Today, the fastest V/Line train is scheduled 3hr 50min, the slowest 4hr 25min
- The N type carriages were introduced in 1981 and the locos in 1984-85
- Today, we use the same 30+ year old equipment with little changed by way of comfort or amenity enhancement – only air-conditioning has been upgraded
- But the carriages look different – they now have their 5th external livery!
- Services ceased in 2008 for gauge conversion and ARTC corridor integration
- Since resuming in 2011, serious reputational damage has come from poor service reliability and extensive road coach substitutions
- The ARTC – V/Line management interface lies at the heart of these issues
In 2016, the combined population of Albury, Wodonga, Wangaratta and Benalla was almost 115,000 – more than either Ballarat or Bendigo.
Communities still waiting for another “New Deal”!
Albury corridor and services
Short term fixes for performance and reputation recovery
For the infrastructure:
- Track formation improvement 3-year program to achieve permanent resilience
- Ongoing frequent condition monitoring
- Routine track geometry adjustment to maintain agreed standards
- Transparent reporting on track condition and other infrastructure performance
For the rolling stock (pending later delivery of new trains):
- The old equipment should be inherently reliable, but only if properly maintained
- Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) system - best international practice
- South Dynon standard gauge rolling stock maintenance facility upgrade
- Transparent reporting on train performance and causation factors
For the long-suffering customers:
- Introduce 5 return weekday Melbourne-Albury trips using 5 locos and N cars released from commuter services (two with faster schedules and limited stops)
(A Seymour-Albury shuttle train would represent further degrading of trip times and overall service quality, hence is not recommended).
The InterCity 2030 vision
for Melbourne-Albury services
- Albury to Seymour track, signalling and level crossings upgrade and maintenance to Class 1 standard for 160km/h operation
- Diversion at Seymour onto V/Line double line corridor following conversion to standard gauge and Class 1 upgrade
- Diversion at Wallan via fast link to Melbourne Airport and new line to Sunshine and Southern Cross station
- Wallan interchange with metropolitan electric services
- High performance bi-modal trains configured for long distance travel
- Seven weekday return services at two-hourly intervals, five on weekends
- Target travel times for limited stop services:
Rail Futures AirTrain proposal – an integral part of InterCity
- A new line from Southern Cross to a major new Melbourne Airport hub served by regional rail and designed for future High Speed Rail
- Melbourne Airport to become a key multi-modal transport hub as well as an air transport hub
- A CBD to Airport AirTrain every 10 minutes
- Connections at Sunshine with Melbourne Metro lines Sunbury to Dandenong via Footscray, Parkville, new CBD stations and Domain, and regional lines to Geelong, Warrnambool, Ballarat and Horsham
- Direct regional rail services at the Airport to Castlemaine, Bendigo, Seymour, Shepparton, Benalla, Wangaratta and Albury
- Connections at Southern Cross to all other suburban lines and to Warragul, Traralgon, Sale and Bairnsdale
Statewide Airport/Rail Connectivity – Metropolitan and Regional Victoria
Melbourne Airport Railway
- Strategic review of network integration, demand, rail corridor and operational options to inform Preliminary Business Case – 6 months (complete 2018)
- Technical studies – 12 months (complete 2018-19)
- Implementation Plan – 6 months (complete 2019)
- Full Business Case – 12 months (complete 2020)
- Planning, Statutory Approvals and Tender Phase – 36-48 months (complete 2023-24)
- Construction and Implementation Phase - 48-60 months (complete 2027-28)
InterCity - an express track to Victoria’s future
Questions and Discussion
Read the full InterCity report