30 new Metro train services will soon be running at peak hours every week in Melbourne’s north and west, the Victorian government announced on Wednesday.
The Craigieburn, Sunbury and Werribee lines are to each receive new morning and evening services, which, according to the government, will allow for an added capacity of 27,000 passengers during peak hours.
State public transport minister Jacinta Allan announced the added services as part of the new metropolitan timetable scheduled to start on 27 August.
“We’re running more trains at peak hour – when extra services and more room are needed most,” the minister said.
In addition, the 37 daily services that currently stop at Newport along the Altona Loop will be extended into direct services between Laverton and Flinders Street Station. Two peak services along the Hurstbridge line are also getting extensions.
The Labor government has so far added 300 metro services and 600 regional services for the V/Line network in response to the chronic overcrowding on Melbourne’s trains.
A consumer satisfaction survey issued by Canstar Blue last year reported on the Metro’s frequent service delays and high levels of overcrowding being reported by passengers.
Moreover, figures released by Public Transport Victoria from a May survey last year revealed that 20 per cent of all morning peak hour trains were overcrowded. At that time, the Craigieburn and Sunbury lines had overcrowding levels of 50 per cent and 40 per cent respectively.
The government hopes that the addition of new peak services on those two lines will go some way towards easing those levels downwards.
“The new services will make a real difference – getting people to work quicker and home sooner,” Allan said.
“We’re adding services and delivering the major projects our network needs – we’re getting on with the job.”
These projects, of course, include the $11 billion Metro Tunnel project due to open in 2026, along with the removal of level crossings, and installation of new high-capacity signalling that will allow 24 to 30 trains per hour to reliably run on the lines.
However, as reported by The Age, the growth in passenger demand in the west and north-west is expected to exceed capacity on the Sunbury and Craigieburn lines by 2021 at the latest, well before the Metro Tunnel project is complete.
Spokesman for the Public Transport Users Association, Daniel Bowen, was quoted in The Age on Wednesday, saying that the announced timetable didn’t go far enough.
“It is obviously a step forward but it’s not a major change to the timetable. They don’t appear to be making best use of the track capacity freed up by the opening of the Regional Rail Link,” Mr Bowen said to The Age.
“I think commuters would like to see more substantial changes to the schedules to cut waiting times and relieve overcrowding.”
The government is also investing in 19 new X’Trapolis trains, and 65 high-capacity trains (20 per cent longer), which will begin servicing the Cranbourne-Pakenham Line in 2019 and all of which are expected to be in service by the time the Metro Tunnel project is complete in 2026.
The new train timetables will be available in July from ptv.vic.gov.au and will be in effect from 27 August.