Packed like Sardines on Upfield line due to Craigieburn line closure. Photo by Corey Cresswell @coreycresswell /Twitter
There have been quite a few complaints about congestion on the Upfield rail line this last week from Friday 22 June to Wednesday 27 June. Metro Trains and Level Crossing Removal Authority have badly stuffed up their communications to passengers about closing the Craigieburn train line, provision of replacement bus services, and the implications for users of the Upfield Train line.
“The Upfield line needs track duplication from Gowrie to Upfield as a priority so that increased service frequency can be offered when the Craigieburn line is closed.” said sustainable transport campaigner and Fawkner resident John Englart.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.