Adding two token train services to Sunbury

In June 2015 the final stage of Regional Rail Link opened to passengers, moving V/Line trains onto a new set of tracks between Sunshine and the city, and freeing up space on the existing tracks to run more suburban services. So what is happening on the Sunbury line?

EDI Comeng arrives into West Footscray with an up Sunbury line service

A wholesale rewrite of the suburban timetable was supposed to happen at the same time, but was delayed to later in the year – instead we got this:

The Werribee line will get an additional service in the morning peak and an additional service in the afternoon peak.

Meanwhile on the Sunbury line, the removal of V/Line trains from the tracks has actually resulted in trains running early: a common sight in morning peak is Sunshine-Footscray express services arriving at Footscray station two minutes ahead of schedule.

Citybound Sunbury service arrives into Footscray two minutes early

A few months on, the Sunbury line has received a minor timetable change – two existing services have been extended to Sunbury:

Member for Sunbury Josh Bull announced today that two new Watergardens services will be extended to Sunbury, with an extra service on the morning and afternoon peaks.

Mr Bull said that he had been fighting hard for more Sunbury metropolitan services to boost capacity, in light of recent changes to V/Line’s regional train policy.

In the morning peak, an extended service will depart Sunbury at 7.36am and Diggers Rest at 7.40am, before forming the 7.47am service at Watergardens, stopping all stations to Flinders Street via the City Loop.

In the afternoon peak, the 5.04pm Watergardens service from Flinders Street will be extended, stopping Diggers Rest at 5.50pm and arriving Sunbury at 5.56pm.

The new timetable will take effect on Monday, 10 August 2015.

At present the Sunbury line sees a 20 minute service every second service in peak times to Middle Footscray, West Footscray and Tottenham stations, a 20 minute off-peak service as far as Watergardens, and a 40 minute off-peak service to Sunbury.

I can’t see one extended peak service in each direction making much of a difference!


I’ve been told that this service extension was made possible by a change to where trains are stabled overnight.

At Sunshine a new traction power substation was been built in the railway station – presumably it has been put in place to power the new train services that are expected to run along the Sunbury line in a few months time.

New Sunshine substation taking shape in the railway station car park

Substations aren’t sexy, but at least seeing new ones built shows that the essentials have not been forgotten.

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10 Responses to “Adding two token train services to Sunbury”

  1. Notch IX says:

    No mention of Calder Park Sidings operation freeing up space at Watergardens?

    From an operational perspective, it means that there’s less congestion at Sydenham and more at Sunbury.

    To correct the post, there’s three extra Up trains. A “standby” train now sits at Sunbury from 04:00 to 14:36 when it runs as a new train.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      IIRC the closure of the St Albans sidings actually happened on the original RRL opening date, with the opening of new Calder Park sidings coming soon after – but it was still a net gain in stabling space.

  2. Leanne says:

    The transport minister Jacinta Allan has REMOVED 200 train services from Sunbury. We are a growth suburb and the Labor govt has removed services in a growth area. From 200 services being lost, we have gained 10 back and not from Josh Bull. We have asked Josh Bull to help us, organise a community meeting and he is ignoring the concerns of his constituents. Josh Bull shows up when good news needs to be delivered. The Sunbury Train Association and the Sunbury community have signed petitions, organised and completed surveys to show the Jacinta Allan that we need our services reinstated. It is an outrage that Labor is removing V/Line services from the Sunbury community. We asked Josh Bull to meet the STA at the Sunbury railway station to assist with the petitions. He did not bother. He asked a question in the house and that was it. The people of Sunbury are very angry that we are being ignored by our MP Josh Bull. The Liberal party and Bernie Finn has asked Jacinta Allan to attend a community meeting in Sunbury. She has yet to respond. Jacinta Allan has taken care of her constituents in Bendigo East by removing Sunbury commuters from V/Line. We need our services returned and we need our MP Josh Bull to stand up and help his community. We are not happy with Josh Bull.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      The extension of suburban trains to Sunbury was a half-arsed job, with only every second Watergardens train extended to the new terminus, and V/Line services being used to fill in the gaps. A proper suburban service should have been provided to begin with, and none of this ‘Sunbury people can use V/Line trains’ debate would be happening.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Note that Pakenham is in the same situation – a token suburban service was introduced back in the 1970s, with country trains filing in the gaps, and now Pakenham passengers won’t let them go.

      • Tim Chuma says:

        It is a pain for people going further than Pakenham when people get the Vline train out to Pakenham and get off and you have to stand for an hour or more. When I was younger and did not have as much money I would at least get the suburban train out to Pakenham and change to a Vline service.

        Some people at least only get the Vline service from Pakenham on a Friday.

        I have seen some cheeky bastards get off the Vline service at Clayton, you are not meant to do that and the conductors do not check tickets until after Dandenong.

        Also having the Pakenham/Cranbourne line at capacity and having to have Vline trains wait for a path is not helping. I had to get a train home that had been delayed and someone lay on the luggage rack as a school camp joined a train they could not fit on. (I have a bad phone photo of it)

  3. Daniel says:

    “a 20 minute service in peak times to Middle Footscray, West Footscray and Tottenham stations” – isn’t it more like 12 minutes?

    • Marcus Wong says:

      I’ve just had a look at the timetable, and you’re right – morning peak is a 6 minute service, alternating between Watergardens trains stopping all station, and Sunbury trains express Sunshine-Footscray.

      The 20 minute gaps for citybound services kick in from 8:42 ex-Sunbury, which is 9:06 ex-Sunshine.

  4. Tom the first and best says:

    Anybody who drove to Sunbury to get the V-Line service can still drive to Riddles Creek or Clarkfield and use the V-Line service for the price of a Suburban fare.

    Pakenham-Dandenong has a much better suburban service than Sunbury. It is about double since the 10 minute upgrades to the daytime service on the city side of Dandenong and the shuttles on the Cranbourne line at other times. Trains from Nar Nar Goon are also not at suburban fare prices.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      In the leadup to the extension of suburban trains to Sunbury, I recall a poster on the RailPage Australia forums stating that they would drive in the opposite direction to Clarkfield in order to keep catching V/Line trains. I wonder how much they valued their time?

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