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Major work on the Dandenong corridor grade separations to start in August & comment

The Premier along with the Minister for Public Transport this morning announced major work will begin on the grade separation projects on the Dandenong rail corridor.

The Dandenong rail corridor will be grade separated between Caulfield and Dandenong by way of three separate elevated sections of new track.  The elevated lines will, for the most part, be constructed whilst the existing railway continues to operate.

As shown in the Level Crossing Removal Authority's video below, the elevated sections of track consist of piers built beside the existing track and a large gantry system will slide pre-fabricated sections of rail guideway into place between each pier.

Contained within a media release, the Government also announced that as part of the grade separation project, all 30 stations on the Cranbourne/Pakenham line will have their platforms extended as well as receive a new power and signaling system.

Comment

Ever since the Andrews Government came to power, Public Transport announcements have tended to focus solely on electorate-friendly, digestible milestones - such as this latest one.  And you can be forgiven for forgetting about the bigger picture.

The Melbourne Metro Rail project, improving existing infrastructure (level crossing removals), lengthening existing platforms to support a new dedicated fleet of longer trains, new duplicated track to Melton, a new signalling system that will likely leapfrog 2-3 technology generations and a new power system are all key components that will make up a metro line from Pakenham and Cranbourne in the South East through to Sunbury in the North West, and Melton in the West once that line is electrified.

What still hasn't been confirmed by the government is, actually, the thing that really matters: what type of service levels can we expect and how will it scale as each new component in the bigger picture comes online?

Longer trains running on the Pakenham/Cranbourne line seems to suggest that frequencies will stay much the same after the Dandenong corridor grade separation project is completed but capacity will increase thanks to the larger trains.  

Moreover, once the Melbourne Metro tunnel is complete, we know that stations like West Footscray and Westall are likely to see targeted investment in new platforms that will allow trains to run in shorter segments, thus increasing frequencies where it is needed. 

There is an indicative service plan contained within the Melbourne Metro documents, however the shorter-term picture for services after the level crossing removals is not clear.  

Providing a robust service plan, with key milestones indicating when and where frequencies will increase, should be top priority for the elements of PTV that are headed into the new Transport for Victoria.  

We ought to be informed of service plans, and their adaptations over time, because it is a powerful determiner and signal to both the residential & commercial development industry and apartment buyers on when and where to invest.

Lead image credit: levelcrossings.vic.gov.au

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