Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Melbourne leaves Brisbane in it's shadow (again)

Melbourne - more frequent trains!
Melbourne's rail network has had umpteen new timetables since the last major timetable change in Brisbane. That was in 2008, and even that timetable was a disaster for many commuters! Now Melbourne's private rail operator  "Metro Trains" has introduced yet another timetable which will make Brisbane commuters weep, with more major changes still planned in the near future. New timetables here:

The most notable addition in the new timetable is a 10 minute weekday daytime frequency from Frankston to the City. For those not familiar with Melbourne, in respect to journey time, Frankston is a similar distance from Melbourne's CBD as Caboolture and Ipswich are from Brisbane's CBD. Other lines in Melbourne have a 15 to 20 minute off-peak frequency, with plans for 10 minute frequencies on other lines. Yet in poor old Brisbane, there is only a 15 minute off-peak frequency between Northgate and Darra (and even that isn't advertised on timetables), and between Park Road and the CBD. Most parts of Brisbane's backwards rail network still have lame 30 off-peak frequencies.

There has been some criticism of the new timetable, particularly by commuters on the Altona loop. Due to a single track section and other infrastructure constraints, the peak service is now every 22 minutes (previously 20), and off-peak is a 20 minute shuttle service. Direct off-peak services have been sent to Williamstown which has experienced higher growth than Altona. However, even this situation is still considerably better than some parts of Brisbane's inner-city rail network, notably the Doomben Line which has peak gaps up to around 45 minutes, and an off-peak service that is at many times non-existant.

There is also a mention in the FAQ section of a 11 minute am peak frequency V/Line service from Geelong to Melbourne. This is in contrast to the 15 minute am peak Gold Coast Line frequency, and 18 to 30 minute am peak frequency (Central arrivals) on the Sunshine Coast Line draft timetable. It seems that Brisbane's rail system has a long long way to go!

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