Regional Rail Link to skip Sunshine station?

As part of the Regional Rail Link project, platforms were built on the new tracks at just two stations: Footscray and Sunshine. With an inconvenient interchange at Footscray and no platforms at North Melbourne, Sunshine is the stand out station for passenger convenience.

VLocity VL16 passes through Sunshine on the up

Citybound V/Line services stop at platform 3, where it is just a short walk up the stairs to the overhead concourse, then back down to platform 1 for a City Loop services – with no need to exit the paid area.

Alstom Comeng arrives into Sunshine with an up Sunbury service

However the number of V/Line passengers able to use Sunshine station is small, due to the limited number of services that stop there.

The vast majority of Ballarat line services stop there to drop off inbound passengers who want to change for a suburban train at Sunshine, and pick up outbound passengers for the country.

V/Line Ballarat line timetable - October 2014

However the current Bendigo line timetable doesn’t have any stops at Sunshine – V/Line passengers need to change trains at either Footscray or Sunbury.

V/Line Bendigo line timetable - October 2014

For the purposes of comparison, the current Geelong line timetable has three stops in the suburban area – Footscray, Newport and Werribee.

V/Line Geelong line timetable - October 2014

So should all V/Line non-express services stop at Sunshine? From an interchange perspective, I say the answer should be yes – as the meeting point of all three V/Line routes that use Regional Rail Link, changing trains at Sunshine will save passengers at least 15 minutes compared to changing at Footscray, and even more time compared to changing at Southern Cross. In addition, Sunshine is also a major station on the suburban services towards Sunbury, saving country passengers the ~15 minute trip into Footscray, just to catch the train back out from the city.

Finally, Sunshine has been designated as one of nine ‘Metropolitan Activity Centres’ in the Plan Melbourne metropolitan planning strategy released in May 2014 – the same designation as Footscray.

Plan Melbourne: Metropolitan Activity Centres fact sheet, May 2014

Sunshine was also designated as one of 25 ‘Principal Activity Centres’ in the now-defunct Melbourne 2030 planning strategy released in October 2002.

With Geelong trains due to start using the new Regional Rail Link tracks via the back of Werribee from mid-2015, it would seem like a sick joke if passengers boarding V/Line services from the new stations of Tarneit and Wyndham Vale have to travel all the way into Footscray just to catch a suburban train back out to Sunshine!

Finally, an answer

It took until May 31 for Regional Rail Link timetables to be released – a mere three weeks before the new line opens! The end result for Sunshine is the majority of Geelong and Ballarat trains stopping, but every Bendigo train running express. At least we finally know!

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13 Responses to “Regional Rail Link to skip Sunshine station?”

  1. Tom the first and best. says:

    The need to change at Footscray, rather than Sunshine, is particularly harmful for people changing between V-Line services because of the long waiting times. The most extreme example would be a Warrnambool train and Swan Hill train passing between Sunshine and Footscray, which would add many hours or even overnight to the trip length.

  2. Tony Smith says:

    Thanks, Marcus.

    You’ve done your usual thorough job on a topic I’ve been advocating for since it became obvious the City of Brimbank is transitioning from its old end of the line role to becoming the major service axis for Western and North Western growth areas. I can now cite it widely.

    There is no real question about the Airport train also stopping at Sunshine. It is just a question of how soon and I’m betting earlier than any of the current parties’ estimates, not because it is more urgent than Mernda, Melton electrification, Doncaster, Rowville and much around Geelong, but because it will be an early beneficiary of changing priorities. And there appears to be just enough future-proofing space to duplicate and provide a platform for the standard gauge line (the XPT and Albury-Wodonga services) already passing through.

    BTW, the concession on the concourse is arguably the best in the system, Olympic Doughnuts aside.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Glad you found the post useful Tony.

      With Melbourne spreading further west, Footscray is now the new South Yarra and Sunshine is Caulfield, at least from a distance from the CBD perspective.

      As for the take away joint on the concourse at Sunshine, they appear to have egg and bacon rolls for sale each morning!

      • Tom the first and best. says:

        Footscray has the University and the rail junction of two major suburban lines, like Caulfield, in pretty much all other aspects it is like South Yarra. I am sure the people near Tottenham will be pleased to hear they are the new Malvern or Armadale.

        With a take away concession on the concourse, Sunshine cannot now be the new South Yarra.

    • Tom the first and best. says:

      Sunshine would/will be even better as a service hub for the Western Growth areas if/when the Melton line is electrified (as it should have been decades ago).

  3. wxtre says:

    It also appears there is also no covering from the elements as you transfer between platforms. It is quite bad design and gaudy, the only positive part of the station upgrade is the escalators.

  4. wxtre says:

    As well as Footscray and Sunshine. With the RRL they should have added additional platforms at North Melbourne, Tottenham and West Footscray. When the Airport line is built the additional platforms will be needed. Plus upgraded Ardeer station.

    • Tom the first and best. says:

      North Melbourne RRL platforms would have been good and still might be for the lines to SXS 15 & 16.

      RRL Platforms at Tottenham and West Footscray would largely negate the purpose of the RRL, allowing express V-Line trains to run express Footscray-Sunshine without being troubled be stoppers.

  5. anthony henwood says:

    to me this regional rail sounds like its going to be a lemon if the trains aren’t going to stop at sunshine and footscray well where are the stops going to be as this will be a connecting point for geelong to melton/ballarat bendigo as it is the werribee train should have been taken to the first point wyndhamvale so buses don’t have to be used to ferry passengers to electric trains at werribee I would have thought this would have been designed into the regional rail link does the word link mean join well the way its going to be the services certainly don’t join so much for linking services

    • Marcus Wong says:

      One rumour doing the rounds is that the only V/Line trains to *not* stop at Sunshine will be express services during peak times – not a bad outcome.

      The problem here is that both PTV and V/Line have no idea how to communicate upcoming service changes – instead they just sit on their hands, and let the vacuum of knowledge lead to misinformation and confusion.

  6. […] While West Footscray station located on a double track railway, it is only two stations beyond the massive apartment developments of Footscray, and two stations from the major rail junction that is Sunshine. […]

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