Category Archives: public transport

The need for Track Duplication between Gowrie and Upfield

Is there room for a 2nd track and bikepath? Camp Rd Level Crossing Removal. Photo: Kevin Balaam via Instagram

As more people move into Fawkner, indeed into Moreland and Hume muncipalities and along the suburbs served by the Upfield rail line, it becomes more imperative to upgrade the Upfield line.

The Level Crossing Removal at Camp Road will not do anything to improve the service to commuters on the Upfield line. This work has been done for improved traffic flow only. The benefit to public transport users will only come with adding dual track from Gowrie to Upfield, which would allow for an increase in service frequency and reduce a bottlenecks in the public transport line infrastructure.

Yes, there are other bottlenecks in the system such as the city loop, which the Metro tunnel line will help resolve.

So why isn’t the Andrews government and State Labor MP Frank Maguire pushing harder for upgrading the Upfield Line to dual track?

The following interchange in letters between Denis Watson of the Upgrade Upfield Committee and Frank Maguire’s office highlights the issue:
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Upfield line passengers wait until December 18 for resumption of service due to Camp Rd Level Crossing Removal

Train services on the Upfield line have been disrupted since 15th November, from Coburg to Upfield. There is a replacement bus service, but it doesn’t provide the same utility as the train service lacking the facility for mobility scooters and to take bicycles.

Camp Road has also been disrupted, but will be reopened with the new road bridge over the Upfield line at 6:00am Thursday 30 November.

Train passengers have to continue to wait until Monday 18 December for reinstatement of train services, due to continuing track work, overhead electricity cabling.
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Passengers forced to help themselves ‘Detrain’ on the Upfield Line

Detraining on the Upfield line from a broken down train south of Park St.

I got to experience a broken down train and the community response in helping each other off the Upfield train yesterday.

Because of level crossing removal work at Camp Road trains are only running to COBURG on the Upfield Line. Yesterday I cycled to COBURG and used the Parkiteer cage for my bike and caught the train into the city for an event. Everything was well, and I caught the 5:02 train from Flinders Street.

The problem with my train started occurring after Flemington Bridge station with the train motor seeming to sputter causing jumps. We made it past Royal Park before the engine pretty well died in fits and starts. “You can do it, you can do it” chanted someone in my carriage as the train inched forward in a few splutters of progress.
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Trains terminating Coburg instead of Gowrie for Level crossing removal

Sign at bus stop opposite Gowrie Station on Sydney Road

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.
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Upfield rail line needs upgrading during Camp Rd level crossing removal

Looking north up the railway line at Camp Rd Level Crossing

The state government will be proceeding with the Camp Road level crossing removal commencing later this year, with the crossing removed by early 2018. Now is an ideal time to push for track duplication from Gowrie to Upfield and extension of the Upfield Bike Path to Barry Road.

When construction starts, services on the Upfield line can be expected to terminate at Gowrie station, with a bus service to Upfield replacing the train. There is no estimate for when or how long the disruption might take. While service is disrupted would be an ideal time to actually upgrade and improve the rail line and associated bike path.
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Consultation on Camp Road Level Crossing Removal (implications for Upfield bike path)

Looking north up the railway line at Camp Rd Level Crossing

Loomking north up the railway line at Camp Rd Level Crossing

Today I went on a scouting trip along the Upfield railway line to Camp Road, the site of a level crossing removal to start in the later part of 2017 and be completed by 2019.

I have come to the conclusion:

The Upgrade of the Camp Road level crossing needs to include either a tunnel for cyclists as part of the railway in trench design, or pedestrian lights to allow cyclists to cross Camp Road in safety.

The consultation and community engagement is at The Meadows Greyhound Racing track.

  • Monday 6 February 2017, 6:00pm to 8:00pm. The Meadows, 80 Northcorp Boulevard, Broadmeadows.
  • Saturday 11 February 2017, 10:00am to 12 noon. The Meadows, 80 Northcorp Boulevard, Broadmeadows

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Extending the Tram through Fawkner – Moreland Council Survey

Sydney Rd Median strip between Major and Lynch Rds

Sydney Rd Median strip between Major and Lynch Rds


Moreland Council have announced a Survey on extending Sydney Road tram through Fawkner. This is gratifying to see, although it is just the first step in a campaign to have the No 19 Sydney Road tram service extended past it’s present Bakers Road, North Coburg terminus.

In November 2014 we argued it was time to Extend Route 19 tram to Fawkner and Campbellfield. There is a strong argument that the tramline should be extended to the Campbellfield shops, and build a public transport interchange linking the tram terminus with the Upfield train line (which also needs upgrading to dual track and electrification to Craigieburn) and east west bus routes along Mahoney’s Rd/Camp Road. (Bus interconnect includes: 902 – Chelsea – Airport West SMARTBUS Service, 530 Campbellfield – Coburg via Fawkner, 531 – Upfield – North Coburg via Somerset Estate, 538 Somerset Estate Broadmeadows via Camp Rd)

This would add substantial amenity to residents in Fawkner and Hadfield in accessing a range of shopping centres, including the Campbellfield shops. It would also add amenity to the various motels along Sydney road in Fawkner, encouraging their patrons to leave their cars parked and travel through Moreland by tram and train.
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Plans for Upfield train line reopening to Craigieburn

Upfield train approaching Gowrie Station
It seems the Upfield service is in for an upgrade under the Andrews Labor Government, to service suburbs further north and join up with Craigieburn. This will make the line more efficient.

Some nice reporting by Adam Carey in the Age on June 5, 2016: Not the end of the line: How people power saved the Upfield rail line. At the end of the article news of reopening the extension to Craigieburn.

Buried in the detail of the 2016-17 state budget is $5 million towards reopening the line north of Upfield through industrial Somerton, to connect it to the Craigieburn line.

That stretch of the line was shut in 1956 but will be reopened within five to 10 years so V/Line’s Seymour trains, which currently run on the congested Craigieburn line, can use the Upfield line instead.
Reopening the line will pave the way for Seymour line commuters to get a train every 20 minutes in the peak. Public Transport Victoria’s rail plans are that eventually the Upfield line will be electrified all the way to Wallan, just beyond the city limits.

It’s a long-term plan that gives Mr Dow immense satisfaction to see.

The community campaign to save the Upfield line put four key proposals to government, one of which was to extend electric trains to Craigieburn via Upfield.

Now we just need the Number 19 tram extended along Sydney Road up to Campbellfield like we have argued for.

Time to Extend Route 19 tram to Fawkner and Campbellfield #vicvotes

Extending the No 19 tramline to Gowrie Station in Fawkner has been proposed by the Greens this election. It is part of an initiative to fill missing tram links amounting to an extra 56 kilometres around Melbourne at a cost of about $840 million.

Rather than trams terminating midway between focal points, it is suggested they be extended to meet train stations or shopping centres to improve their functionality and intermodal usefulness.

The proposal for adding a number of tram extensions to the network is not new. The Public Transport Users Association have had plans for several years which they continue urging policymakers to adopt. The Greens proposal for 17 tram line extensions totalling an extra 56 kms was initially unveiled in July 2014.

The Greens also advocate the purchase of another 50 locally built E-Class trams to also alleviate some of the pressure on Melbourne overcrowded trams, especially in the northern suburbs. The Greens cost the extensions at about $15 million per kilometre as against the cost of $1 billion per kilometre for East West Link. Some have raised ‘Can the Greens tram plan be taken seriously?‘ (Alan Davies, Crikey) yet public transport commentator Daniel Bowen argues that Tram extensions: Not as expensive as some claim.

Other than the Route 19 tram, the Route 112 tram extension along Gilbert Road to Edwardes Lake Park, then up Edwardes street to terminate at Reservoir Station also makes a lot of sense to me enhancing intermodal connections. The other routes I’ll leave to others to discuss the merits of.

You can read the Greens tram initiative, routes and maps yourself.

What I want to talk about further is extending the No 19 tramline to, and perhaps past, Fawkner.

Route 19 Tramline extension

The Greens proposal for Route 19 involves extending the tram track up the middle of Sydney Rd to Fawkner Shops (via Gowrie Station). The map seems to indicate it would terminate in the centre of the road near Gowrie Station rather than actually connect to the Fawkner shops in Bonwick street. Taking the tram tracks down Jukes Rd might be a little problematic.

Greens-proposed-tram-extn-Route-19

I would not stop this extension at Gowrie but continue it further across the Western Ring Road and Mahoneys Rd to the Campbellfield shopping centre precinct. This makes enormous sense and provides better public transport and pedestrian access from Fawkner to the Campbellfield shops and avoids the morass of bitumen and cars on the Sydney Road intersections with Western Ring Road and Mahoneys Road (a real nightmare when on foot)

That strip of Sydney Road in Fawkner also features several motels catering to visitors to Melbourne, including the Meadow Inn Hotel-Motel, Hume Villa Motor Inn, Ibis Budget Fawkner, and the Fawkner Star Motel. A tram line on Sydney Road would encourage those visitors to leave their cars in motel car parks to catch the tram to Coburg, Brunswick or even into the city or to the Campbellfield shopping Centre.

The population of Fawkner and Hadfield are also increasing with more medium density sub-development so the tram extension would also cater to this population growth.

Upfield rail line needs upgrading to allow increased services

The railway Stations of Gowrie and Fawkner provide a wide catchment, with many people driving and a few cycling to these stations to commute to work.

The Upfield rail line is already operating at near capacity during peak periods with an increased frequency on this rail line overdue. There is a case for duplication of the track to Craigieburn and electrification from Upfield to Craigieburn to close a loop and enable more freqent service.

Upfield train approaching Gowrie Station

Greens candidate for Brunswick Tim Read suggested at the Moreland Transport forum that the duplication of the Upfield line past Gowrie and possible electrification of the existing track to Craigieburn would close a transport loop to Craigieburn and allow greater capacity and frequency of services on the Upfield Line. He was the only candidate at this forum to raise this potential.

The extension of the Sydney Road tram to Campbellfield would make a real difference in alleviating pressure on the capacity of the rail service to meet peak demand, while increasing public transport patronage.

Trams are especially efficient for smaller journeys and this tramline extension would help connect those living in Fawkner and Hadfield to other urban focal points in Campbellfield, Coburg and Brunswick.

Intermodal connection with High Speed Rail at Campbellfield

The tram extension to Campbellfield would also be a useful intermodal connection to the proposed Melbourne North station at Campbellfield on the preferred High Speed Railway alignment that uses the Upfield rail alignment (underground from Gowrie to Southern Cross). (See High Speed Rail – Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development – Chapter 4 on Alignment and station locations)

There are those who say this tramline duplicates the Upfield rail service, yet both services are popular and well used. It is likely any extension would increase public transport patronage.

The Northern suburbs of Moreland could sure do with a little bit more public transport infrastructure.

Secure Bike Parking at Fawkner Station but Gowrie Station still needs to be zone 1

Secure Bicycle parking at Fawkner Station installed

Secure Bicycle parking at Fawkner Station installed

Fawkner Station now has a secure bike cage for those who choose to cycle to the station and take the train. The parkiteer security bike parking cage was launched by Moreland Mayor Oscar Yildiz, State Transport Minister Terry Mulder, and Christine Campbell MP for Pascoe Vale on July 1st.

Cr Oscar Yildiz said in the council media release “Moreland residents love their bikes and now they can travel to Fawkner station and have peace of mind that their bike will be secure and undercover,” Cr Yildiz said. “This is a brilliant example of a joint government initiative that will make people’s life easier and more sustainable in their daily commute.”
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