Metro - suburban train timetables too complicated - The Age

 
  jack_lives_here Locomotive Driver

Location: Witness Protection Program
I am sorry, but we are still paying the penalty for the TOTAL lack of foresight displayed by our 1960s and 1970s transport planners.  
"scottydl"


Let's not forget every goverment since then who have all placed anything labelled "major rail network upgrade" in the Too Hard Basket.

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  michinyon Chief Commissioner

Fourteen stopping patterns on the Frankston Line is just ridiculous, it may be applying band aids but in reality it makes the railway very hard to run reliably .


So why exactly does a large number of stopping patterns make it hard to run reliably ?

A lot of the more obscure stopping patterns apply to very late or very early services,  or weekends,  or positioning trains for additional services, or running to stabling,   or counter-peak services which make extra stops to service schoolchildren, for example.     Presumbly each additional stopping pattern variant was added to meet some particular operating requirement based on customer demand.

But how exactly is your contention based that this factor makes it hard to run the railway reliably ?
  prometheus_au Chief Train Controller

I think the "Timetable simplification" has links to the proposed 'through running' at Flinders Street Station.

From the rumour-mill (and we ALL know what that's like), it's been bantered about that FSS Drivers are to be de-centralised. FSS would become a through station, not unlike Southern Cross, North Melbourne or Richmond.

Drivers would no longer be 'relieved' at FSS under this proposal.
  John_Proctor Train Controller

^^ correct.

the DOT has done an analysis of how to get mroe out of hte existing network and in summary a lot of the ideas are those floated by Paul Mees in his various rants against government including not changing drivers at FSS. (although I note that most of them weren't his ideas)

I think the changover time is something like 7 minutes at FSS and they hope to limit that to 4 minutes or something...

The follow onto to this is the termination of peak hour Gippsland trains at FSS to free up more paths over the flyovers for metropolitan trains.

I don't understand why the loop needs to be turned around at 1pm?   Not changing directions would be as big a win for some people as it is a loss for others.  Most CBD stations have large overlap in walking catchments as well so you could simply get off at a different station.  

I would have thought regardless of if running 14 different stopping patterns doesn't hurt reliability on the network it is obviously making the system less intuitive for the average user.  Even an everyday train user would get confused with which train was coming if there are 14 options, especially given our trains tend to run 5 minutes late a lot of the time so you are never sure if you're catching the 7.59 which runs express, the 8.02 which runs SAS or the 8.06 which runs a mix of both.   running a train to cater for 100 people that makes the system less legible for 10,000 people isn't a good idea!


third track to Ringwood will never ever happen!   Save the money for a third track to Ringwood and put it into gettign a fourth track from Burnley to Box Hill or Blackburn so you can run the two tiered service and people from Ringwood would never get stuck behind stoppers again.

3rd and 4th tracks on the Dandenong corridor only need to go to Westall as well... that is where the two tiered service starts beyong that you only need two tracks becauseall the trains are doing the same thing!
  Sir Thomas Bent Minister for Railways

Location: Banned
So, with this whole two-tiered thing. Sort of back to the future - it's exactly how things were done in the 1950's.


If it worked then ,bring it on.
"DalyWaters"
It worked then as there were bugger-all people beyond the inner tier.  Try getting away with 1hr plus frequencies in marginal electorates beyond Oakleigh or Heidelberg or Reservoir or Mordialloc.
  tomohawk Chief Commissioner

Location: Getting The Met to get around

I think the changover time is something like 7 minutes at FSS and they hope to limit that to 4 minutes or something...
"John_Proctor"


Some trains have a layover of 7 minutes or more, but driver changeover only takes a minute or two. Changing the driver changeover location wouldn't really bring much improvement, and would be at a huge cost, as you have to pay for the time for drivers to get from Flinders Street Station out to wherever the changeover location is. That costs "productivity time", and would likely require more drivers in order to run the same number of trains.
  Michaelje Chief Commissioner


I think the changover time is something like 7 minutes at FSS and they hope to limit that to 4 minutes or something...
"John_Proctor"


Some trains have a layover of 7 minutes or more, but driver changeover only takes a minute or two. Changing the driver changeover location wouldn't really bring much improvement, and would be at a huge cost, as you have to pay for the time for drivers to get from Flinders Street Station out to wherever the changeover location is. That costs "productivity time", and would likely require more drivers in order to run the same number of trains.
"tomohawk"


Is there anything in the Award that says the layover location must be Flinders St?
  DalyWaters Chief Commissioner

Is there anything in the Award that says the layover location must be Flinders St?


No, its a Operations thing.

Actually, if my idea of a suburb over the top of a big spark stabling depot at Melbourne Yard ever got up, North Melbourne could be the main depot and changeover spot for the Northern lines.  Trains on the opposite to the peak (i.e down in the morning and up in the arvo) could swap drivers.

I wouldn't mind betting that there would still be issues at Flinders St that drag the system down.

Of course, if changeovers are successful at North Melbourne, Richmond and Jolimont could also be used for the appropriate lines.
  John_Proctor Train Controller

the reason he asked that question is he is intimating that if it isn't in the award it isn't 'productive time'... your shift starts at Glen Waverley at 9am you get to Glen Waverely at 9am in your own time.  just like everyone else gets to the location of their job in their own time.



I have to say I've never really understood why the driver changover takes so long as to be a delay to trains but people keep banging on about it.   so you might be right Tomohawk.
  Michaelje Chief Commissioner

the reason he asked that question is he is intimating that if it isn't in the award it isn't 'productive time'... your shift starts at Glen Waverley at 9am you get to Glen Waverely at 9am in your own time.  just like everyone else gets to the location of their job in their own time.

I have to say I've never really understood why the driver changover takes so long as to be a delay to trains but people keep banging on about it.   so you might be right Tomohawk.
"John_Proctor"


If it isn't in the Award then Metro Trains should make any new hires aware that the changeover spot will be wherever the hell they want it to be. The are the party responsible to the Govt for running the network.

Tomorrow my job could be reassigned from the CBD to Darwin. I get to like it or lump it.
  UQB709 Locomotive Fireman

Relieving drivers doesn't take seven minutes - if there is a source for that idea then it isn't very credible.  Generally the miniumum preferred at Flinders Street is two minutes - and dwell time at Flinders Street is primarily dictated by other timetable requirements, rather than time for crew changes.

Drivers are also relieved mid-journey at other locations on the network where they sign on and off - such as Carrum, Mordialloc, Dandenong, Westall, Macleod, Eltham, Broadmeadows, Ringwood and Upper Ferntree Gully.  There is no time allowed in the timetable for when this occurs.

There are advantages in relieving all trips at Flinders Street - primarily making it easier for trains to be transposed without causing a driver to necessarily be out of position.  However, it is principally driven by industrial agreements - especially the requirement that (with some exceptions for shuttles) drivers do not operate more than one out and back trip on any line during a shift - eg a driver can only do one trip to Sandringham in a shift.

I don't think that changing drivers at Flinders Street is an essential part of Melbourne's system - but I think its impact on performance and capacity is negligble and it certainly has advantages to go with the disadvantages.

The negative impact on timetabling the system caused by relieving at Flinders Street is overstated by some 'experts', whose principal expertise is coming up with something, anything, that is different.  Most groups have more than one platform for arrivals, so pumping trains through Flinders Street at high frequencies could theoretically be handled whilst continuing to relieve there - but its the infrastructure constraints on the rest of the network which really constrain the timetable.  If the aim is to improve productivity of drivers - that is a whole different debate - but comes with its own set of complications.

Meanwhile - back to simplifying the timetable - so long as you have a system of many flat junctions, single line sections on 8 of the 15 electrified lines, the old fashioned pleasures of such museum pieces as staff and ticket (not for long though), the need to balance shorter journey times for outer suburban journeys against frequency on the inner network, lengthy lines mixing non stop V/Line services amongst a suburban service, a complicated fleet maintenance regime generated by a huge number of stabling locations with decentralised maintenance facilities, an overcrowded network where stopping patterns are juggled to shoe-horn excess passengers onto any bit of fresh air left in the peaks etc etc, you are going to have a complicated timetable.
  michinyon Chief Commissioner

So do shifts end in the same place where they started ?

And why is there a limit of one trip on the line each day ?  That seems rather non-obvious.  

If the driver lives at Frankston and starts driving the train at Frankston,   why can't he drive the train Frankston-FSS-Frankston-FSS-Frankston-FSS-Frankston   and then it is time to knock off.      He has to finish somewhere else because he can't take a train to Frankston again on the same day ?     Whether it is paid time or not,   it is not very efficient.
  DalyWaters Chief Commissioner

And why is there a limit of one trip on the line each day ? That seems rather non-obvious.


It was determined by someone or other with clout that familiarity breeds contempt, and/or complacency.

After some accident somewhere, it was decided that Victorian drivers would not drive over the same tracks in the same direction more than once in a day.

It is applied in an odd manner.  For instance, we can do up to five shuttles in a shift between Newport and Williamstown or Camberwell and Alamein.  For some reason that is different!!??!!   Also, doing a run to Glen Waverley and a run to Ringwood in a shift is okay.  Likewise, Epping and Hurstbridge.  But not Pakenham and Cranbourne.

I think it could be made a bit more flexible.  However, doing three Frankston to Citys in a shift is not on and is probably what the intention of the rule was to prevent, for the safety of the travelling public.

However, one big advantage with the current system for Metro is that all drivers are conversant in all tracks.
  DalyWaters Chief Commissioner

So do shifts end in the same place where they started ?


Yes they do.  Its one return trip.  So your Frankston driver would drive in to the city, then maybe do an Epping, tucker, Werribee then to Frankston where another Frankston driver will be waiting to take the train.
  Michaelje Chief Commissioner

Relieving drivers doesn't take seven minutes - if there is a source for that idea then it isn't very credible.  Generally the miniumum preferred at Flinders Street is two minutes - and dwell time at Flinders Street is primarily dictated by other timetable requirements, rather than time for crew changes.

Drivers are also relieved mid-journey at other locations on the network where they sign on and off - such as Carrum, Mordialloc, Dandenong, Westall, Macleod, Eltham, Broadmeadows, Ringwood and Upper Ferntree Gully.  There is no time allowed in the timetable for when this occurs.

There are advantages in relieving all trips at Flinders Street - primarily making it easier for trains to be transposed without causing a driver to necessarily be out of position.  However, it is principally driven by industrial agreements - especially the requirement that (with some exceptions for shuttles) drivers do not operate more than one out and back trip on any line during a shift - eg a driver can only do one trip to Sandringham in a shift.

I don't think that changing drivers at Flinders Street is an essential part of Melbourne's system - but I think its impact on performance and capacity is negligble and it certainly has advantages to go with the disadvantages.

The negative impact on timetabling the system caused by relieving at Flinders Street is overstated by some 'experts', whose principal expertise is coming up with something, anything, that is different.  Most groups have more than one platform for arrivals, so pumping trains through Flinders Street at high frequencies could theoretically be handled whilst continuing to relieve there - but its the infrastructure constraints on the rest of the network which really constrain the timetable.  If the aim is to improve productivity of drivers - that is a whole different debate - but comes with its own set of complications.

Meanwhile - back to simplifying the timetable - so long as you have a system of many flat junctions, single line sections on 8 of the 15 electrified lines, the old fashioned pleasures of such museum pieces as staff and ticket (not for long though), the need to balance shorter journey times for outer suburban journeys against frequency on the inner network, lengthy lines mixing non stop V/Line services amongst a suburban service, a complicated fleet maintenance regime generated by a huge number of stabling locations with decentralised maintenance facilities, an overcrowded network where stopping patterns are juggled to shoe-horn excess passengers onto any bit of fresh air left in the peaks etc etc, you are going to have a complicated timetable.
"UQB709"


It's good to have drivers being relieved at other spots on the network other than Flinders Street.

Now, your next statement shows how absolutely retarded the state of play in regards to industrial relations and train drivers is.

"eg a driver can only do one trip to Sandringham in a shift.". WTF? Try telling a taxi driver he can only drop one person off at the Airport, or he can only get on the Monash once.

It beggars believe and I challenge anyone to justify it in any meaningful way

These types of "arrangements" lower flexibility and make it worse for customer experience.

Clear indication that the unions have too much power.
  Sir Thomas Bent Minister for Railways

Location: Banned
Nice to see a fellow returning sockpuppet, Michaelje.

As for having Flinders St as the changeover point, it makes sense in once area that the drivers' facilities are centralised.  Their administration and facilities are not duplicated across many stations, of which a great deal do not have the space to accommodate such things that Flinders St does.
  fullofrubbish Assistant Commissioner

Location: Brunswick
However, it is principally driven by industrial agreements - especially the requirement that (with some exceptions for shuttles) drivers do not operate more than one out and back trip on any line during a shift - eg a driver can only do one trip to Sandringham in a shift.
"UQB709"


Very interesting UQB709

I've never come across this issue in the couple of years I've been hanging around here now.

I'm not going to argue whether I think its good/bad/wateva, just raising the idea that this issue could become potentially political/media-worthy if it was to become a stumbling block to Metro's contract requirement of providing a new two tiered service Question
  fullofrubbish Assistant Commissioner

Location: Brunswick
While I'm thinking about it, do other suburban railways in Australia / Overseas have similar agreements about drivers not doing one more than one return run on a line per day?
  heisdeadjim Chief Commissioner

I am with Daly on this, I have no issue with drivers being not allowed to do more than one run on any one line. Being as they're starting and finishing at the same point anyway, why not have then do different lines?

Breaks up the monotony and as Daly correctly observed, a great way of keeping all drivers familiar with all tracks.
  perwaynut Deputy Commissioner

Location: In the Land of the Mighty Hawks, and our favourite footy President Jeff
As with most things, there are pros and cons with driver rostering practices. As an example, when I was working in Sydney, the metropolitan network was divided into three sectors, and drivers were rostered over all three sectors, changing trains at Central. One effect of this arrangement was that delays in one sector would flow onto other sectors, as the drivers that were suppossed to be at Central to change were still on their late train. Once a few trains got out of whack, it quickly snowballed.

A change was made so that drivers were only rostered to one sector for the weekdays, and on weekends they once again crossed all sectors. During the change I cannot recall familiarisation being and issue, though this does not mean that it is not.

Sectorisation was a big thing when I was working in Sydney, and that is what the Clearways is all about. Creating five seperate railways out of one railway.
  Michaelje Chief Commissioner

Nice to see a fellow returning sockpuppet, Michaelje.

As for having Flinders St as the changeover point, it makes sense in once area that the drivers' facilities are centralised.  Their administration and facilities are not duplicated across many stations, of which a great deal do not have the space to accommodate such things that Flinders St does.
"Sir Thomas Bent"


Sorry Mr. Bent, not sure what you are trying to imply. The fact is, I'm not a driver, I don't work for the railways, so I can see the ridiculousness from the outside, whereas perhaps you've worked there so long, that you've internalised ridiculous policies to the point where you can justify them in a kneejerk manner.

Guess what? My company has retarded policies too, so don't feel bad.

Another few posters have already shown the ridiculousness and hypocrisy of the policy, by stating you are allowed to do Newport shuttles.

It's ridiculous to suggest that the policy has any bearing on reality. A simple think about it will do you.

As for centralisation at Flinders St, how about we get into the real world here, it's 2010, not 1950. We live in an electronic era and I'm not sure what facilities are SO vital that they MUST be located at Flinders St, and everything must be based around it.

What does a driver do, other than prep a train, get on it, and drive. It's not as if the only toilets on the system are at Flinders St
  heisdeadjim Chief Commissioner

I can't agree with that.

Decentralise drivers facilities and you'll have someone complaining about the costs involved, and wouldn't it just be cheaper to have all the amenities in one spot.....
  richiebogie Chief Train Controller

As many lines converge in the inner city, trains should flow through Flinders Street like any other stop and not block platforms and tracks.

Timetable fat to make up for any late-running should occur at the outer terminals.

I assume many drivers start or end work at stabling or maintenance facilities.

If there is important admin or socializing to be done at Flinders Street then rosters may need to be flexible to ensure drivers are always ready to take over out-of-sequence trains and get them out of the city.
  Speed Minister for Railways

Relieving drivers doesn't take seven minutes - if there is a source for that idea then it isn't very credible.  Generally the miniumum preferred at Flinders Street is two minutes - and dwell time at Flinders Street is primarily dictated by other timetable requirements, rather than time for crew changes.
"UQB709"
That appears to be the most important point in investigating ways to reduce delays at Flinders Street.

If there is a need for a seven minute stop, that need will arise wherever you take it, be it Richmond, Flinders Street, North Melbourne or an arbitrary loop station. In turn, this will hold up trains behind. If that is all that changing drivers at a different station will achieve, it's definitely not worth moving the location at which they change.

There may be other measures needed so that drivers can be ready and waiting when the train arrives at FSS rather than the train being ready and waiting for a driver.

Timetable fat to make up for any late-running should occur at the outer terminals.
"Richie Bogie"
A station like Kooyong or Royal Park, where only one line is affected by the train waiting, could also be sufficient.
  tomohawk Chief Commissioner

Location: Getting The Met to get around
Slowly the system is decentralising. As the outstations, like Cragieburn and Epping grow, more and more jobs become available out there due to more trains being stabled there overnight. Cranbourne was the same. Newport and Eltham are others. Westall, too.

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