Updated 5th October: with a response from Frank Maguire MP, and response from Level Crossing Removal Authority. Update 9 October with response from Metro Trains re disability access for replacement bus service
Public Transport Victoria and Level Crossing Removal Authority have failed to explain why trains will terminate at Coburg Station instead of Gowrie Station.
Due to Level Crossing Removal activity at Camp Road trains will terminate at Coburg station from 8.30pm Thursday 26 October to the last service on Monday 30 October. A bus service from Coburg to Upfield will replace the train. This disruption will be repeated during November and December.
Unfortunately buses aren’t as friendly for wheelchair users, or for cyclists who use the train. What about people who use mobility scooters? Will they be catered for? These people are particularly negatively affected, as well as regular users of Batman, Merlynston, Fawkner and Gowrie stations.
I don’t see why trains can’t terminate at Gowrie, where there are points north of the station before the M80 bridge allowing a train to go beyond the station then come back heading to the city.
I have raised this with Frank Maguire MP for Broadmeadows. please feel free to do the same at his contact page.
I note with some concern that train services to Upfield with be interrupted again for an entire weekend starting 26 October, with all trains terminating at Coburg. This is ostensibly being done so that work can continue on the Camp Road level crossing removal project.
It is apparent that users in Fawkner, Hadfield, Merlynston and Coburg North would suffer far less inconvenience, and costs for replacement buses and attendant staff could be considerably reduced if trains were instead turned at Gowrie. I cannot see any reason why trains can’t be terminated at Gowrie. And it is likely that driver tasks could be simplified by running 3-carriage trains throughout the weekend.
The situation is expected to arise a number of times throughout the next six months. I would appreciate it if you could raise this issue urgently with an appropriate authority, Regards John Englart
While you are at it, email the level crossing removal authority why they don’t terminate trains at Gowrie not Coburg. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Update 4 October 2017 from Frank Maguire MP:
Thank you for your enquiry regarding the rail closures along the Upfield line as part of the Camp Road level crossing removal project
I have sought information from the Office of the Minister for Public Transport and below is their response in answer to your queries.
“Your interest in this important local project is appreciated. The Level Crossing Removal Authority has been spoken to with regards to your suggestion that trains be turned back at Gowrie Station.
Trains cannot be turned at Gowrie Station, as it is not a rail turn back facility. Each line has a certain number of designated turn back stations, where trains can safely change their direction of travel.
To do this at Gowrie Station would require a significant amount of signalling and electrical equipment to be installed. The lead time for this to occur does not align with the schedule for the Camp Road level crossing removal.
It is noted that you see this as being an ongoing issue for the next six months. You will be pleased to know that the boom gates at Camp Road will be gone by the end of 2017, with the project complete in early 2018.
This makes this level crossing removal one of the fastest LXRA has completed to date, with minimal disruptions for both rail and road users.
You are encouraged to keep up to date with the Camp Road project at levelcrossings.vic.gov.au/crossings/camp-road-campbellfield.”
My immediate email Response:
Thankyou for the response regarding the Level Crossing Removal.
It appears however people in wheelchairs, mobility scooters, or use bicycles for mobility with the train service are not being accommodated during times when buses replace trains from Coburg to Upfield.
What is being done to ensure ongoing public transport accessibility for these people when trains terminate at Coburg?
Update: 5 October: Response from Level Crossing Removal Authority
The Level Crossing Removal Authority emailed a response to another person raising the issue:
“Unfortunately Gowrie Station is not equipped with a rail turnback facility, therefore trains cannot be turned back there. Rail turnback facilities allow trains to safely change their direction of travel. Coburg is the only station on the Upfield line equipped with one and the lead time for installing the technology at Gowrie does not align with the schedule for the Camp Road level crossing removal.”
This isn’t quite true. If you look at the track diagram at the Vicsig.net website, there is no reason trains could not stop at Gowrie for passengers to disembark, move onto the single track past Gowrie, then reverse direction and stop at Gowrie for pickup of city-bound passengers. This might entail employing two drivers for each train for the change of direction and some more resourcing for signals.
Update 9 October 2017: Response from Metro Trains
An excerpt from an email to me from Metro trains:
I appreciate your suggestion that terminating trains at Gowrie would reduce inconvenience for our passengers and costs for us. The infrastructure does not allow for trains to be turned around at Gowrie, and the works require power to be turned off between Coburg and Upfield.
In accordance with the State Government’s Victorian Fares & Ticketing Manual (page 156), bicycles cannot be carried on replacement bus services. There is an exception for folding bicycles as long as they are folded down.
We know this is inconvenient for our passengers with bicycles and are working with the State’s Public Transport Victoria (PTV) to address this. A 12-month trial is underway to assess the installation of external bike racks on regular and train replacement buses.
We request low floor buses to ensure passengers with mobility aids can travel. In the event that a mobility aid cannot fit on a replacement bus, alternative arrangements will be made.
It does appear unnecessary to many people that the trains won’t be terminating at Gowrie. It would be good to receive an official explanation, for openness and transparency, etc. Without an explanation being provided, I could speculate the reason is for “safeworking” purposes. This link provides some info regarding safeworking on ARTC network. The VicTrack requirements could be similar.
Consider that the tracks merge at the points some distance away from the station proper. Consider also the length of the train. The Ring Road is only 700m from the points? Is that enough distance for safety, considering that the construction workers are probably not qualified to work on operational lines?
This is just speculation by me, of course. There might be ways around it. Eg Fixed train stops. “Some railways and rail transit agencies use fixed train stops to protect workers in work zones by temporarily applying them at either end of the zone, preventing trains from incorrectly entering the work zone.” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Train_stop#Fixed_train_stops
Curious. For many years trains terminated at Gowrie but now with our modern system this is not possible?
Which government sold the 7m of 3-core flex that was needed to turn trains?