First weekday for Regional Rail Link

On the weekend the last part of Regional Rail Link finally opened, with Geelong trains moving onto the new line via the back of Werribee, serving two new stations at Wyndham Vale and Tarneit. I went for a ride on Monday morning to see how the new commuters took to their new service.

VLocity 3VL58 stops at Tarneit with a down Geelong service

The new bus network was up and working, including the new double decker bus for the route 190 service that links Wyndham Vale station with suburban trains at Werribee station.

CDC Melbourne double decker bus #131 BS01GV on a route 190 service at Wyndham Vale

But there were also plenty of opening day glitches. The first thing I noticed was that none of the next train displays were working – they were either showing inaccurate data, or the default ‘Listen for announcements’ message.

'Listen for announcements' message on the next train display at Wyndham Vale

Platform length is also a problem at the new stations. V/Line is currently only operating trains up to a maximum of six carriages long on the line, but Footscray, Tarneit and Wyndham Vale are all setup for nine carriage long trains.

'VL9' - nine-car VLocity set stopping mark on the RRL platform at Footscray

Painted markings indicating where train drivers should stop, but they appear to be used inconsistently – some trains pulled up to the departure end of the platform, while others stop near the platform entrance. Combine that with the lack of information is given to waiting passengers, and dwell times blow out, as waiting passengers run down the platform to meet the train.

First time V/Line passengers board an up Geelong service at Tarneit

Finally, today was the first time that many commuters from Wyndham Vale and Tarneit had ever stepped onboard a V/Line service, so there was some confusion as to how to open the train doors!

A few more points:

  • I travelled on a citybound service that commenced at Wyndham Vale, and it was almost empty, while elsewhere there was reports of Geelong services becoming overcrowded once they reached the new stations.
  • V/Line now has nobody to blame for themselves for en-route delays, yet my citybound train got held outside the junction at Sunshine, presumably for another V/Line service, and then crawled into the city, arriving 5 minutes late at Southern Cross.

The glitches with the next train displays are hopefully just an opening day bug, as do passengers not knowing how to open the doors. I’m also hoping that once passengers from Wyndham Vale and Tarneit get used to the new service, they will discover that the dedicated short working services are their best bet for getting a seat, reducing crowding on the Geelong services.

However, the inconsistent stopping locations at platforms is something that V/Line needs to address – the Chief Investigator of Transport Safety flagged it as an issue following a ‘signal passed at danger’ event in 2011.

So to summarise – I’m glad to see a new rail line built to serve a growing area of Melbourne, but V/Line and PTV really need to pull their finger out and make sure the public get the most out of the new infrastructure.

CBD skyline in the background as a 5-car down Geelong service approaches Tarneit

Some timetable quirks

Under the new timetables, for much of the day Metro Trains services to Sunshine station are now outnumbered by those provided by V/Line!

  • V/Line: 3 trains an hour to Geelong, and 2 trains an hour to Bacchus Marsh, with every second train continuing to Ballarat.
  • Metro Trains: 3 trains an hour to Watergardens, with every second train continuing to Sunbury.

In addition, services to Geelong in peak hour now outnumber those on the ‘suburban’ line to Upfield, which only receives a train every 20 minutes.

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10 Responses to “First weekday for Regional Rail Link”

  1. Jennifer Williams says:

    Peak hour services from Laverton on the Werribee and Williamstown lines only run every 22 minutes too. Totally impossible to remember!

  2. Somebody says:

    If you counted the Bendigo line, plus others that don’t stop, I’m guessing there would be more V/Line trains passing through Sunshine than there are Metro services? Patronage levels would be the opposite though.

    I saw reports elsewhere of Werribee line trains being noticeably quieter in the morning peak yesterday. I wonder how many will try the RRL, but switch back to using the suburban line?

    • Marcus Wong says:

      The current service provided on the Sunbury line is a joke, with not enough trains to serve the inner area, yet along all the way to the end of the line. Even in peak hour the inner suburban stations of Middle Footscray, West Footscray and Tottenham only get a train every 20 minutes, thanks to the useless bit of express running for Sunbury passengers.

  3. wxtre says:

    “my citybound train got held outside the junction at Sunshine”.

    Should a flying junction been constructed at Sunshine. I immediately noticed that it could cause delays when I watched the video below.

    https://youtu.be/uytp5ohVWRI?t=5m21s

  4. Joc says:

    The Sunshine speed restriction junction/points (due to cost cutting) were done with a later stage plan in mind… Or rather on the drawing board.

    The theory was “why spend the cash now on Sunshine junction high-speed points, to only rip them up years later and place in a new set of high-speed points with PTV planned upgrade” 😉

    • Marcus Wong says:

      When passing under the Anderson Road bridge by train, if you look closely at the south side, you will notice there is space already dug out for another two more tracks. Roll on electrification to Melton, and the quadruplication of the tracks to Deer Park!

  5. […] Geelong services moved onto the new RRL tracks in 2015, having used the suburban tracks via Newport and Werribee before this time. Again, this […]

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