Many respondents to our 2015 On Track survey were less than impressed with how Victoria’s rail network was performing. Commuters told us they struggled with a lack of seating, overcrowding and trains not being on time. It’s disappointing that these three issues were amongst the top concerns in the same survey run in 2013. But what is encouraging is the State’s commitment to improving our rail system. The recently released Regional Network Development Plan and State budget have allocated a substantial percentage to funding much needed rail projects.
The Melbourne Metro project has stolen the show for the last few months (and for good reason). The State has committed to fully funding the project, Melbourne’s biggest rail investment since the City Loop. However RACV believes that this city shaping project warrants strong Federal support and is pleased to note that both the Labor and Liberal parties have made promises towards the project. Federal funding relief can provide the opportunity for a number of other important rail projects to be funded by the State Government. Many of these projects would respond to concerns that were raised by commuters through our survey.
State wide rail upgrades
Survey respondents told us their main concerns with their train service were a lack of seating and overcrowding. The State Government has committed to purchasing 28 high capacity metro trains, five X’Trapolis trains and 27 V/Locity carriages to help address ongoing patronage demands.
At the station itself, commuters overwhelmingly struggled to find a car park. The State Government has committed $19.9 million for a station car parking fund to create more than 1,500 new spaces across metropolitan and regional Victoria. In addition, the state will invest in bus service improvements to address connectivity and accessibility to train stations.
Passengers using South Morang station told us they struggle to find a car park and that their trains are overcrowded. The State Government has commited $587.7 million to extend the South Morang line to the Mernda growth corridor. This will involve the creation of two new stations – one in Mernda and one near Marymede Catholic College. The project will provide much needed relief to commuters who travel from Mernda to access South Morang station, taking some pressure off the car park as well.
Commuters along the Hurstbridge corridor told us they suffer from infrequent services, overcrowding and a lack of services. This corridor will receive a $135.9 million upgrade to address these concerns. The project will include track duplication between Heidelberg and Rosanna and a new bus service from Greensborough to Diamond Creek.
Survey respondents rated Frankston station poorly – 5.89 out of 10. Safety, both at the station itself and in the car park, was the biggest problem here. The State Government has committed $50 million towards the Frankston Precinct Upgrade. This project has the potential to address these concerns by designing a station that mitigates the opportunity for crime and promotes public spaces where people feel safe.
The recently released Regional Network Development Plan sets out a forward strategy for public transport in regional Victoria and while many of the projects were announced in this year’s State Budget, the plan sets out an impressive list of future projects.
Commuters from Ballarat station told us that a lack of seating, overcrowded carriages and infrequent services were their top concerns. An investment of over $500 million to address demand, punctuality and reliability along the Ballarat line will help to address these issues. This funding will also include the building of a second 17 kilometre rail track between Deer Park West and Melton.
Although Bendigo station rated fairly highly, safety concerns and a lack of car parking and seating were a worry for commuters at this station. The State will address these issues through its commitment of $15.8 million towards upgrades to Bendigo and Eaglehawk stations. This will help improve amenity, pedestrian movement and parking at these stations.
Victoria’s north-east line rated the poorest service in the state. Commuters along this corridor struggle with infrequent services, trains not arriving on time and slow journeys. The State has committed $15 million to refurbish train carriages along the line and for ongoing fleet maintenance to improve the commute.
Regional commuters told us they faced poor amenities at their station, particularly car parking, seating and shelter. The Gippsland corridor will receive $11.6 million for train station and track upgrades. A number of stations along this line will be upgraded to improve passenger comfort, transport interchanges and car parking capacity.
We look forward to tracking how this investment will affect satisfaction ratings in our next On Track survey. Will these investments impact on your train trip?
Public transport and the Federal election
RACV is watching the major parties closely in the lead up to the Federal election and tracking their transport promises. Let the candidates in the Federal Election know what you want them to support by using our easy online tool to send them an e-mail. Be informed before you vote.
Written by Dominique Torpy, Public Transport and Mobility Officer June 21, 2016