A couple of weeks ago I had a look at the prospects for a north-south rail line in central Melbourne. There’s no doubt that such a line would have a substantial impact on travel patterns. Aside from the induced demand implications (which would no doubt be substantial), there would be significant adjustment in the role of trams along the corridor. Instead of providing for often reasonably long journeys, the trams along the north-south rail corridor would take on a different role – working as feeder services to the rail stations and catering for shorter trips in the area. I’ve had a few tentative ideas about how the trams in the area could be adapted to integrate properly with a metro line. The major modifications I’ve been looking at are in three areas; namely the Upfield line section, the Swanston St./St. Kilda Rd. section and the St. Kilda light rail section. All the proposals here are highly tentative, and I’d be very interested to hear feedback and other ideas for reform of the train/tram interface.
Upfield line section
In the event that the Upfield line were sent underground at Jewell, a sizeable chunk of line would become redundant. Although it could be run as a short spur (have a look at Riccardo’s recent post on spur lines), the three stations are already reasonably well served by other lines. Royal Park has the 55 tram, Flemington Bridge has the 57 and 59 and Macaulay is very close to Kensington station. I’m not so sure that making that section of line into a heavy or light rail shuttle service would be the best outcome. Rather, I’d like to see a short section of the line used as part of an east west light rail service along the inner circle alignment.
The line would run from Clifton Hill station, beside the Epping line to Rushall, and then along the inner circle alignment to Royal Park station. From there, the line could use the 55 tracks to Flemington Rd. and the 57 tracks to Queensberry St. A short section of track could be built along Queensberry and Dryburgh Streets, sending the line to its terminus at North Melbourne station. The Upfield line between Royal park and North Melbourne would be closed. Furthermore, with this line duplicating much of the 57 through North Melbourne, the 57 could be rerouted via Flemington Rd. to improve travel time. The otherwise unused southern section of the 57 could become a short service between North Melbourne and Flinders St. station. Here’s a map:
The line would require around 5 kilometres of new track, to be built at a cost of some $54.35 million. The line would also require conversion of 500 metres of the Upfield line, but the cost of this should be negligible when done in conjunction with the other work. Local residents along Park St. might get a bit irate about this plan, so it may be worthwhile to use the grass between the tracks set-up as was done in Box Hill a few years ago.
Swanston St. – St. Kilda Rd. section
Running a high frequency metro line down Swanston St. and St. Kilda Rd. would no doubt have a big impact on tram use patterns. The tram trips would likely become shorter as passengers changed to the train for faster longer trips. Swanston St. and St. Kilda Rd. would still need a frequent service (say every 3 minutes all day), but there would be scope for turning some of the lines into shuttle services. The map below shows the broad principles of what I feel should underline any service changes. There’s a lot of scope for change in the specifics though. In case anyone notices, the station locations I’ve included here are a compromise between the two options presented in my earlier post.
Basically, routes 3, 5, 16, 64 and 67 would remain unchanged. Routes 1 and 8 would be split in half, with the northern sections running to Domian Interchange via Southbank Bvd., Sturt St., Kings way and Park St. The southern sections of routes 1 and 8 would be joined together and run via Domain interchange – this would require the construction of a small section of new track in Park St. as well as the closure of a similar sized section of track in Eastern Rd. Routes 6 and 72 would also become a shuttle service, joining together and feeding into a station at the Alfred.
St. Kilda light rail section
With the construction of a metro to St. Kilda, the role of the 96 light rail moving passengers between St. Kilda and the city becomes largely redundant. One option would be to simply close the line at Port Junction and leave the shorter distance work to the 112. This is potentially short sighted though, and risks making the same mistake that was made when the St. Kilda line was downgraded to light rail – it doesn’t plan for the future. Rather, I’d like to see the 96 take a lot of the 112 passengers, allowing the southern section of the 112 (old route 12) to become a free tourist line like the city circle. The W class trams currently languishing on the 30 and 78/79 could be used here, allowing the tourists to catch a W down Collins St. and along the Esplanade. Later on, the Danks/Patterson/Park St. section could even be moved to Beaconsfield Pde.
Many of the above ideas are just me thinking aloud, and I’d love to see some alternative proposals or even a challenge to my belief that the trams should act as feeders to the rail lines.