Photos from ten years ago: July 2009

Another instalment in my photos from ten years ago series – this time it is July 2009.

Remember Connex and Metcards? Here we see the ticket gates at Glenferrie station.

Metcard barriers at Glenferrie station

Down at North Melbourne station the new concourse at the city end was almost complete. This massive steel deck was required to protect the gas mains underneath from the heavy crane used to remove the last bits of formwork.

Steel deck was to protect gas mains underneath from the heavy crane

Down the line at Footscray station, rail replacement buses were running, thanks to a damaged section of overhead wiring on the track towards Newport – all thanks to a scrote who threw a chair over the edge of the station footbridge.

Damaged bit of overhead is between the two tracks, the contact wire is missing

Note the lack of low floor buses – you can blame Sita Buslines for that.

Sita high floor buses run a Connex rail replacement service at Footscray

The footbridge in question was still the rickety timber and tin structure dating back to the 1900s.

Footbridge crossing platforms 3/4 from the down end

But the bridge’s days were numbered.

Construction equipment in place

With construction on the $14.7 million dollar replacement about to start.

Ramp to the street still there but penned in

Another upgrade was the introduction of ‘Parkiteer‘ bike cages around the network.

'Parkiteer' bike cage at the up end of the east car park

Launched in February 2008, initially $1 million in funding was allocated for the installation of up to 20 bike cages.

But $1 million is a drop in the ocean in the money spent on railway station car parks.

New car park at the down end levelled out

In 2009 the massive car park at Laverton station was undergoing yet another expansion – stretching halfway to Aircraft station.

By 2014 the car park was rated the ‘worst in Melbourne for finding a space‘, with local residents getting sick and tired of motorists from elsewhere clogging their suburb, but the 2018 State Election saw the promise of still more parking spaces made by the Andrews Government.

July 2009 also saw me take a wander around the back blocks of Docklands.

Another view of the double compound trackwork at the western end of the wharf

There were plenty of abandoned railway tracks running around the wharves – this is now the corner of Collins and Bourke Street.

Landside track just before rejoining the wharfside tracks

While the other end was shed 21 – since demolished, erasing the last trace of Victoria Dock.

Offices at the derelict shed 21

Closer to North Melbourne station was the former ‘Hump’ at Melbourne Yard.

Looking south towards the former balloons from the hump crest

Opened in 1968, the yard was used to sort freight wagons. Each wagon would be pushed to the top of the ‘hump’ and then released, being allowed to roll into a destination track.

'Queen' points in the lead to 'C' and 'D' balloons

The entire yard was controlled by a primitive computer, with remote controlled brakes and points ensuring that each wagon ended up on the correct train.

Secondary retarders in the lead to 'B' balloon

But by the time of my visit the yard was long closed – the last train passed over the top in 1987.

VLocity VL05 passes the former Hump crest bound for Southern Cross, as N459 waits on the loco track in the background

The bulk of the yard was demolished in 1997 to make way for the Docklands Stadium, but the ‘hump’ crest lasted until 2010, when it was demolished to make room for the new Regional Rail Link tracks.

I also swung past the Melbourne Steel Terminal, used to tranship freight for the BlueScope Steel plant on the Stony Point line at Hastings.

XR551 and a BL class at the Melbourne Steel Terminal, with another BL class in the background, and 8114 shunting some standard gauge wagons

Located in the middle of the ‘E’ Gate urban renewal precinct, the freight terminal was closed in 2015 and cleared of tracks soon after.

But all of those plans have come to naught – the land has been handed over to Transurban for city access ramps connecting to the West Gate ‘Tunnel’.

And finally, we end down on the outskirts of Geelong, where the railway towards Warrnambool passed through anonymous empty paddocks.

N472 leads the up Warrnambool through the rain at Grovedale

But in 2013 this spot was chosen as the site of the new ‘Grovedale’ station, which opened to passengers as ‘Waurn Ponds’ on October 2014.

Footnote

Here you can find the rest of my ‘photos from ten years ago‘ series.

Express trains and Melbourne’s suburban sprawl

A common refrain from some public transport activists is the “Melbourne’s trains used to carry more passengers in the past – so why can’t management do the same today”. But there is an explanation for this – the introduction of express trains to carry peak hour commuters from far flung suburb sprawl to the Melbourne CBD.

Notice of Frankston line express services at the bottom of the next train display at Richmond station

So where do express trains run?

The Lilydale and Belgrave share a third track as far as Box Hill, allowing express trains to overtake all stations services.

'Express' and 'Ltd Express' options used for trains in the Burnley Loop at Flagstaff

The same applies to Frankston services as far as Moorabbin.

Frankston train transposed to Flinders Street platform 4, normally used by Craigieburn trains

But double track lines also see express trains – like the Sunbury line as far as Sunshine.

And a minute later, the 'Change at North Melbourne' message is gone!

And what does it mean for capacity?

In March 2008 Rod Eddington raised this question in his ‘East West Link Needs Assessment’ report:

In 2007-08, Melbourne’s train system will carry about 200 million passengers – a historically high number exceeding the peak of the 1940s and 1950s.

With the city’s train system only recently exceeding the number of passengers carried in the 1950s, some Melburnians ask the question: if the system could carry that many people 50 years ago, why is it so hard today?

Then provides the answer:

When measured in passenger kilometres – rather than simple passenger numbers– today’s rail system performs a much greater task than in the 1950s.

The geographic expansion of Melbourne (with low density land use and widely spread employment and residential locations), together with the introduction of express commuter trains, means that a direct comparison between the passenger numbers carried today and those carried in the 1950s is more complex than simply counting passengers.

Melbourne has changed considerably since the 1950s – and so has the way the city’s trains are operated. In the 1950s Melbourne’s population was around 1.5 million, with 70 per cent living within 10 km of the GPO. Today, Melbourne’s population is moving towards 4 million, with around 16 per cent of people living within 10 kilometres of the GPO.

Industry was concentrated in the inner and middle suburbs, meaning that people had very short journeys from home to work. In addition, very few people owned cars – in 1950, there were less than 200,000 cars in Melbourne (around 113 vehicles per 1,000 people) compared to today’s 3.5 million vehicles (around 680 vehicles per 1,000 people).

This animation by GIS analyst Cody Phelan illustrates this growth.

‏With Rod Eddington describing the impact it had on the rail system.

With such short journeys to work and with so few people owning cars, there was no great demand for express trains over such short distances, and no competitive pressure from car travel. Melbourne’s trains ran regular services of short distances compared to today, with very few express trains.

In 2008, express trains are a highly valued part of the metropolitan train timetable, with some Melburnians commuting 40 or even 60 km each day from the outer suburbs to the CBD. Express trains were introduced partly as a response to competition from the rise in car ownership: as car ownership exploded in the 1960s, people began to leave the public transport system and a long steady decline commenced that has only recently turned around.

Express trains ‘eat up’ capacity. Where express trains share track with ‘stopping all stations’ trains, greater space between trains must be ‘hard coded’ into the timetable, limiting the number of trains that can be run on the line. Reducing the number of express trains would help to increase capacity, but would significantly increase travel times from the outer suburbs and may dissuade commuters from using the train at all. Boarding data supplied to the EWLNA shows a clear commuter preference for express trains, with maximum loads on these trains and ‘stopping all stations’ trains carrying significantly lower loads.

The distance people travel on the train has also increased as the city has grown. Today, the average journey length is around 18 km; in 1930, it was less than 11 km. The result is that when the number of passenger kilometres run today is compared to that of the 1950s, the load being carried by the system in 2008 is far greater.

In addition, the peak hour ‘spike’ is far more extreme today than in the past. Today, the system has to cope with a peak period of extreme demand that is 50 per cent greater than 1969, stretches system capacity and makes it difficult to meet that demand with extra services. These differences between the way the system operated in the 1950s and today mean that direct comparisons about passenger numbers are misleading.

The growth in express services is shown in figure 31 – Percentage of trains running express, 1940 and 2006.


East West Link Needs Assessment report

And figure 32 shows the driver in demand: average distance passengers travel by train, 1930 to 2006.


East West Link Needs Assessment report

With the end result figure 33 – CBD station exits, 1939, 1969 and 2006.


East West Link Needs Assessment report

Looking back

As far back as the 1950s, the Victorian Railways was concerned that Melbourne’s suburban sprawl was impacting on their ability to efficiently provide rail services.


SLV image H31188

From the 1956-57 Victorian Railways annual report:

At the same time, suburban travel demands have changed. The growing population in the developing outer suburbs involves a greater proportion of longer distance suburban travel and this imposes operating problems during the peak periods because the track facilities serving many of the areas limit the service which can be provided. More trains are also required for peak period operation because of the longer turn-round.

The following graph illustrates the steady increase in suburban journeys over six miles in distance and the gradual decrease in journeys under six miles.

SUBURBAN PASSENGER JOURNEYS: Proportion of Total Journeys

Work is in progress to increase track capacity on several suburban lines so that, with the new trains being put into running, improved services can be provided. Increased traffic in the outer suburbs has also necessitated the provision of four new stations. One – Oak Park on the Broadmeadows line – was opened during the year, but progress could not be made with the others due to limited funds. For similar reasons, a number of other essential works to facilitate suburban train running had to be deferred.

Combined with the growth in private car ownership and a reduction in off-peak passengers, rail patronage began to enter a death spiral – with express trains seen as the saviour.


Weston Langford photo #113741

With the 1958-59 Victorian Railways annual report explained the financial impact of these changes.

Suburban passenger journeys totalled 162,631,736 – 376,668 more than in 1956-57. This traffic is also adversely affected by the use of private cars but the chief difficulty is the lack of patronage during off-peak periods.

During the intense morning and evening peak periods, aggregating about 3 hours daily, it is necessary to operate 122 trains and even then the loading is mostly uni-directional, but off peak traffic requires only 60 trains. The balance of the trains remain idle. Drivers, guards, shunters and station staffs must also be augmented to handle the peaks and they cannot always be economically utilised at other times. The fact that the suburban electric system is not used to capacity needs no further elaboration.

Another factor affecting suburban traffic results is the increase in the average length of the suburban journey, which in 1957-58 rose from 8·73 miles to 8·82 miles, continuing its progressive increase with the growth of population in the outer suburbs. Concurrently, however, traffic at the inner stations has declined substantially with the result that the total number of suburban journeys has remained relatively static in the last few years.

The increased average length of journey has necessitated the spending of large sums of money on development of the suburban system by duplication of lines, provision of new stations, additional trains, etc., but the revenue accruing from the longer journeys has fallen far short of making good the losses of short haul traffic and meeting the heavier fixed charges and increased cost of operating the added train mileage.

Increases in fares having failed to keep pace with increased costs, it is not surprising that for a number of years the suburban electric system has been operated at a substantial loss-estimated at £2,500,000 in 1957-58 after making arbitrary allocations of the cost of facilities common to suburban, country passenger and goods services, e.g. tracks, signalling, stations, etc.

With the object, therefore, of complying with Government policy that this loss be reduced and one class suburban travel introduced, a new schedule of one class fares, estimated to produce additional annual revenue of £1,300,000, was brought into operation on the electrified system on 14th September, 1958.

Continuing to run clapped out ‘red rattler’ trains from the 1920s didn’t help to attract passengers.


Weston Langford photo #112453

With the 1963-64 Victorian Railways annual report describing the worsening of the post-WW2 malaise.

During the past fifteen years, the extensive development of outer suburban areas, particularly to the north, east and south-east of Melbourne, has been reflected in the steadily increasing length of the average distance travelled by suburban passengers. The following table is indicative of this trend:

Although there has been a growth of traffic from the outer areas, the traffic at stations within nine miles from Melbourne has declined substantially, the overall result being a drop of about 26 million passenger journeys compared with the total for 1 949-50, the peak year for suburban rail travel.

The increased average length of journey has necessitated the spending of large sums of money on track duplication, signalling improvements and the provision of new stations and additional trains. However, the revenue accruing from the longer journeys is not sufficient to offset the loss of short haul traffic or to meet the heavier fixed charges and increased cost of operating the extra train mileage, because of the manner in which the suburban fare tariff tapers off as the distance from Melbourne increases.

The great disparity between peak and off-peak traffic further militates against economical working of the suburban system. During the intense morning and evening peaks, totalling about three hours daily, it is necessary to operate up to 130 trains of seven carriages, but for the off-peak traffic less than 60 trains, many of which are reduced in length to four or two carriages, are sufficient to handle the traffic offering. Because of this uneven distribution of traffic, a great proportion of the suburban carriage fleet, representing an investment of many millions of pounds, remains idle for most of the day.

Moreover, the necessity for much of the costly duplication and other works undertaken in recent years to increase track capacity has been dictated largely by rush hour traffic requirements.

The general decline in off-peak rail travel has been contributed to by many factors, the chief of which is undoubtedly the increased popularity of the private car as a means of transport during leisure hours.

The 1980 Victorian Transport Study Report on Metropolitan Public Transport also discussed the fall in patronage.

However the use of public transport subsequently declined with the increasing ownership and use of private cars. Population and jobs have become dispersed and people travel, in the main, by private motor car. As recently as 1955 public transport provided approximately 50% of annual passenger travel in Melbourne.

Since then travel in Melbourne has approximately trebled and the public transport share has dropped to little more than 10%. Over this period public transport patronage has declined from approximately 500 million per annum to slightly more than 250 million.

This rapid change in patronage has been associated with increasing costs of operation and reduced productivity – the relatively greater reduction in off peak usage being an important factor in this.

And the impact on rail operations.

During 1978-79 suburban trains covered 13.4 million kilometres and carried over 89 million passengers. Although the suburban network has seen some expansion in overall physical capacity (an increase of 28 route kilometres, 76 track kilometres and more than 60 carriages over the past 20 years) much of this capacity has been absorbed in catering for an increase in the average length of journey from 13.9 to 16.2 kilometres during the same period.

In the 1970s the City Loop was conceived as the saviour to turn the tide in patronage – but all it did was arrest the fall.

Hitachi train at Melbourne Central platform 4

So transport planners came up with another way to deploy express trains – off peak ‘flyer trains’ to Dandenong, Frankston and Ringwood; and triplication to Ringwood and Dandenong.

X'Trapolis 72M on a down Lilydale service arrives into Laburnum station

But it took the growth of visitation to the Melbourne CBD from the mid-2000s to see patronage commence the climb seen today.

Overcrowded platforms 9 and 10 at Southern Cross Station

Today’s priorities – the Metro Tunnel under the CBD, removing level crossings and rolling out all-day 10 minute train services to more lines.

Footnote

The PTUA looked at the why can’t we run more trains question from a different angle, in their article titled “Myth: We’d have to spend heaps of money on infrastructure“. Their conclusion – kill off express trains:

However one looks at it, the supposed capacity shortage is revealed to be a management problem, not an infrastructure problem.

In conclusion, if there really is money available to spend on new tracks, the priority should be

  • the remaining single-track sections in the network, which make the provision of reliable high-frequency services difficult to impossible whether inside or outside peak hour;
  • and network extensions to areas that currently have no train services at all, no matter how fast or frequent.

Once the real bottlenecks have been fixed it may then be appropriate to consider additional tracks for ‘super expresses’, which are in any case only useful in peak hour and then only for central-city commuters. Needless to say, all of this should be undertaken by competent and skilled planners, every one of whom is worth more than their weight in gold-plated steel rails.

The ‘flyer train’ fad of the mid-2000s

Last week I wrote about the history of third track proposal between Box Hill and Ringwood – and now to look at a transport fad of the 2000s: ‘flyer trains’.

Down Craigieburn service running express from North Melbourne to Essendon, Glenroy, Broadmeadows and Craigieburn

Rail patronage was still in the doldrums during the early-2000s, so transport planners floated the idea of off-peak express trains between the Melbourne CBD and the outer suburbs.

EDI Comeng departs the city at Richmond

With the Bracks Government including them in their Linking Victoria program:

The Government’s Metropolitan Rail upgrade program, part of the Linking Victoria program, includes the introduction of express ‘Flyer Trains’. These trains will reduce travel times on suburban lines serving Melbourne’s outer suburbs and key growth corridors. The new train services will operate on the Frankston, Dandenong and Ringwood lines.

Dandenong line

A feasibility study is underway in conjunction with the Regional Fast Rail project to identify the most cost-effective way to deliver faster regional and metropolitan train services. The staged development of a third track between Caulfield and Dandenong is envisaged as a long term solution.

Frankston line

M>Train, the operator of trains on the Frankston line, is spending over $5m in speed improvement works on the line. Express and other services will benefit from these works. Flyer Trains will be implemented with stopping patterns that maximise the advantages of the upgraded infrastructure.

Ringwood line

A combination of infrastructure works and new train timetables are being investigated to deliver faster train services from Lilydale to Belgrave. Triplicating parts or all of the train line between Box Hill and Ringwood is being considered. Improvements in rail services will also be integrated with transport improvements introduced as part of the Scoresby Integrated Transport Corridor project.

So what happened?

The PTUA poo-pooed the idea.

Myth: ‘Super expresses’ will encourage more public transport use

Fact: Of those who currently do not use public transport but might if it were better, the vast majority are not central-city commuters. Greater use should be made of limited express runs – especially outside peak hour – but ‘super expresses’ (such as Dandenong to the city non-stop) are not only useless to the majority of travellers, but also undermine the efficient use of our rail infrastructure.

Prior to the recent boom in train patronage, the government regularly floated the idea of enticing travellers with ‘super expresses’ or ‘flyer trains’ from the outer suburbs all the way into the city. The idea is intuitively appealing, at least for those of us who live a long way out of town but work in the CBD.

The problem is that making such a ‘super express’ work is not as easy as just adding an extra train to the timetable. Rail lines work most efficiently, carrying the maximum number of people, when all trains have the same stopping pattern. But the more stops a train skips, the greater the ‘dead time’ that must be allowed between it and a previous stopping train, in order that it not catch up and be slowed down by it.

Super-expresses are an example of the ‘commuter‘ model of public transport, which is based on the outdated notion that public transport is specifically for nine-to-five commuters to the city centre. Experience in cities like Vancouver shows that the alternative ‘urban’ model, based on a full-time network of frequent services, is much more successful both at attracting passengers and recovering its costs.

But triplicating the line between Box Hill and Ringwood did get somewhere, with provision made during the 2007 Middleborough Road level crossing removal project.

X'Trapolis 72M on a down Lilydale service arrives into Laburnum station

Triplication between Caulfield and Dandenong was floated in 2005, and included in the 2006 ‘Meeting Our Transport Challenges’ plan.

Alstom Comeng departs Westall on a down service

But petered out following the construction of a turnback platform at Westall.

EDI Comeng arrives into Westall platform 3 with a terminating service

But both projects were quietly forgotten following the explosion in rail patronage from 2006, which the government was unprepared for.

Today’s priorities – removing level crossings.

X'Trapolis 105M passes under Blackburn Road, arriving at Blackburn station on the up

And rolling out all-day 10 minute train services to more lines.

With track amplification now preferring pairs of tracks – Southern Cross to Sunshine as part of Regional Rail Link completed in 2015, and Caulfield and Dandenong at some indeterminate point in the future.

VLocity VL04 leads a down Geelong train past North Melbourne station on the RRL tracks

Footnote

Turns out everything that’s new is old – from the 1959-60 Victorian Railways annual report:

On 30th November, 1959, off-peak express services for shoppers were introduced on the Ferntree Gully, Lilydale and Frankston lines.

I haven’t found a follow up reference to these services, but I suspect they were short lived.


PROV image VPRS 12800/P4, item RS/1199

Extending the third track from Box Hill to Ringwood

Passengers on the Lilydale and Belgrave lines get the most express services of any line on the Melbourne rail network, thanks to the separate ‘express’ and ‘local’ tracks that run between Box Hill and the CBD. So what work would be needed to extend the track further east to Ringwood?

X'Trapolis 992M departs Hawthorn with a down Alamein service

Some history

Originally built to serve the country towns of Ringwood, Ferntree Gully, Healesville and Warburton, the land boom days of the 1880s saw the line duplicated as far as Ringwood.

But it was the eastward spread of Melbourne’s suburbs after WW2 that led to construction of a third track far as Box Hill, to meet the demand for demand for peak hour express trains in the face of private car ownership. Vicsig.net has the opening dates:

  • Hawthorn – Camberwell: 1963
  • Camberwell – East Camberwell: 1964
  • Richmond – Burnley: 1966
  • East Camberwell – Box Hill: 1971
  • Burnley – Hawthorn: 1972

And there work stopped, with the exception being the provision of a third platform at Blackburn in 1980, to permit trains to continue running while Box Hill station was rebuilt as part of the grade separation project.

Up and down trains cross paths at Blackburn station

A little future planning

In 2007 the railway line between Box Hill and Blackburn was lowered to remove a level crossing as part of the Middleborough Road Project. The railway cutting was built wide enough for a third track to run down the middle.

X'Trapolis 921M leads an up service under the Middleborough Road bridge at Laburnum

With Laburnum station also rebuilt for the future – two platforms flanking the widely spaced tracks.

X'Trapolis 72M on a down Lilydale service arrives into Laburnum station

And in 2010 another section of the line was rebuilt, as part of the Springvale Road Rail Project.

Nunawading station was rebuilt as an island platform, with a two track bridge beneath Springvale Road.

Citybound X'Trapolis train about to pass under Springvale Road on the approach to Nunawading

And a hard concrete wall along the northern side.

X'Trapolis 14M departs Nunawading station on a down Lilydale service

But the southern side was left open, ready to be dug out for a future third track.

X'Trapolis 932M arrives into Nunawading with an up service

Then down the trench

We’re now at 2014, and the Mitcham Level Crossing Removal Project has just been completed. The level crossings at Mitcham Road and Rooks Road were removed, but thanks to the tight rail corridor no provision was made for a third track.

X'Trapolis 58M passes beneath Rooks Road, Mitcham with an up service

The track weaves around at the bottom of a two track wide cutting.

X'Trapolis train approaches Mitcham with a down Lilydale service

With the rebuilt Mitcham station situated at the bottom of a similarly claustrophobic hole.

Looking down the line towards the sunken platforms at Mitcham station

The Heatherdale level crossing removal project completed in 2017 continued this pattern – a long deep cutting.

X'Trapolis 174M arrives into the new Heatherdale station with a down service

And a pair of platforms flanking double track.

X'Trapolis 876M arrives into the new Heatherdale station with an up service

While the Blackburn Road level crossing removal project also completed in 2017 took things a step further – a double track bridge under Blackburn Road.

X'Trapolis 105M passes under Blackburn Road, arriving at Blackburn station on the up

And a narrow two track cutting headed almost a kilometre towards Nunawading.

X'Trapolis train midway between Blackburn and Nunawading on a down Belgrave service

So what happened to the plans?

The local councils in the Eastern Transport Coalition want the track from Box Hill to Ringwood to be triplicated:

The Belgrave/Lilydale line, with approximately 93,000 daily boardings, is Melbourne’s most highly patronised rail line. Ringwood, 25.8 kilometres eastwards from Flinders Street, serves as a junction between the Belgrave and Lilydale lines.

Linking many of Melbourne’s main activity centres and growth areas, the Belgrave/Lilydale line is critical to ensuring liveable eastern suburbs and now is the time to expand the capacity and allow for future growth.

The line includes a third bi-directional track through to Box Hill. To facilitate more efficient travel, including the provision of express services at Ringwood, triplication over the 9.6km of track is required.

Public Transport Victoria also seem to be protecting the land required to build a third track, based on the Box Hill to Ringwood Bike Path Project design options report:

Impact on rail services: PTV’s requirement to not preclude the provision of a future third track cannot be compromised.

A key aspect of this route is that it cannot be built without stepping on the footprint of the future third track from Box Hill to Ringwood without acquisition of private land. If approval could be gained now to build the path, it would need to be removed in the future when the third track is built.

But the PTV Network Development Plan published in December 2012 fails to mention it – a fourth track between Burnley and Camberwell, and eventually Box Hill appearing instead:

16.5 Fourth track between Burnley and Camberwell

The connection of the Northern and Caulfield loops to each other will enable the creation of a new cross-town line linking the Burnley local lines (Glen Waverly and Alamein) to the
Werribee line. This line will be segregated and will ultimately have a capacity of 24 trains per hour in each direction.

However the key constraint to achieving this frequency will be the three-track section between Burnley and Box Hill. During peak periods, in the peak direction, the outside line carries Burnley
local services, while the centre track caters for Burnley express services.

In the counter-peak, a mixture of express and stopping services currently share the single track (although in order to maximise capacity on the counter-peak track, all trains need to stop at all stations).

This configuration means that the different train services are sectorised going in the peak direction; however, they must share one track in the counter-peak direction. As the capacity of the single counter-peak track is much less than the two peak direction tracks, the number of train movements in the peak direction is limited to avoid train congestion in the city during the morning peak. This means that some peak direction capacity cannot be used.

To overcome these issues, there is a need to quadruplicate the rail line between Burnley and Camberwell and ultimately onto Box Hill. This would involve the construction of a fourth track on the south side of the existing rail corridor, with new platforms at Camberwell. The third platform at all other intermediate stations would become redundant and could be demolished if required to make room for the fourth track.

But even that idea isn’t a new one – many underline bridge between Burnley and Camberwell have abutments ready built for a four track, constructed as part of the 1960s triplication work.

Underline bridge at Hawthorn city end

So what’s better?

Daniel Bowen asked the How many tracks? question back in 2016 – short answer is that for a modern metro service, four is better than three.

Playing the ‘what song is that?’ game

DJ mixes created by your favourite artist are one way to find new music – but how do you find out the names of the songs you’re listening to? In the ‘good old days’ before the internet you were flat out of luck, unless you had an encyclopaedic knowledge of music.

Music cassettes still for sale at the Temple Street night market

But today the job is easier. If it’s a MP3 file hopefully someone has included the track list into the ID3 metadata, but otherwise you’ve got some detective work to do. Plugging song lyrics into Google might get you somewhere, but the easiest is using Shazam:

Shazam identifies songs based on an audio fingerprint based on a time-frequency graph called a spectrogram. It uses a smartphone or computer’s built-in microphone to gather a brief sample of audio being played. Shazam stores a catalogue of audio fingerprints in a database. The user tags a song for 10 seconds and the application creates an audio fingerprint. Shazam works by analyzing the captured sound and seeking a match based on an acoustic fingerprint in a database of millions of songs. If it finds a match, it sends information such as the artist, song title, and album back to the user.

And my task at hand

I came across the ‘Home / Not Home’ Mix by Melbourne band Architecture in Helsinki on Soundcloud, but unfortunately it didn’t have a tracklist.

Shazam was able to pick up seven out out the eight songs, but came up blank at 18:15. For that I had to turn to old fashioned Google search, plugging in lyrics, then listening to the resulting YouTube videos until I found a match.

The end result:

00:00
Todd Terje – Snooze 4 Love

04:20
Storm Queen – Look Right Through

07:00
Mario & Vidis feat. Ernesto – Changed

11:00
Scenic – Another Sky (The Magician Remix)

14:40
Black Van – Yearning

18:15
Tensnake – Need Your Lovin

21:20
Joakim – Forever Young

23:45
Architecture in Helsinki – Escapee (Lo-Fi-Fnk Remix)