Talbot station (Maryborough line) is now on track

 
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Just in case anyone is wondering the current station is entirely new and is NOT an upgrade of the existing site, which is now a  garden nursery. The new station starts around 50 metres north of the old station and has its own new bitumen access road and carpark, so its not surprising it cost 2.5 million.

Considering The line has only one train each way a day I believe they are doing well to get the numbers they are. An increase in the number of services will almost certainly produce a marked increase in patronage. This is something VLine certainly knows.

Any increase is service levels will come from an extension of an existing ballarrat service, A shuttle will not be used. The reason for this is (as I have said before) the cost of running a passenger train service does not vary much with distance, this is due to a large percentage of costs (Oc health and safety, various statutary, regular maintence and running costs for VLine itself etc) are fixed and do not vary with the distance a set is used. An effect of this is that a passenger from Maryborough to Melbourne will pay a greater share of the cost of running a train than one from Baccus marsh or even Ballarrat. ie the cost of running a service from Maryborough instead of Ballarrat is not that much more ___BUT___ the cost of a fare from Maryborough to Melbourne is a significant increase, in effect VLine is getting more bang for the bucks its spending with the Maryborough service.

woodford

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  Mr. Lane Chief Commissioner

More and more people are leaving the big cities for a quieter life in the country.
Sandpatch
Except they are not. Tree-change is a romantic Australian lie. Far more people leave the country to find work in the cities and regional centers than the other way around and it has pretty much been this way in Australia (and most of the planet) for over 100 years now. Mechanization of agriculture and a move towards service industries being the two primary reasons.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Except they are not. Tree-change is a romantic Australian lie. Far more people leave the country to find work in the cities and regional centers than the other way around and it has pretty much been this way in Australia (and most of the planet) for over 100 years now. Mechanization of agriculture and a move towards service industries being the two primary reasons.
"Mr. Lane"
This.

The same thing is happening in New South Wales. I understand that train enthusiasts like country trains because, quite frankly, trains look very pretty in the countryside; in contrast, enthusiasts often find they look dull and plain in urban environments (hence why I personally prefer photography of buses (Sydney) and trams (Melbourne) in urban environments). But these trains are expensive to run and while excellent for pork-barrel projects in marginal country seats, they are more often than not serving a lesser purpose compared to inner-regional trains that link regional centres with the state capitals.

It is all well and good to romanticise the whole act of fleeing the cruel, callous city for the freedom of the countryside, provided it is for the purpose of retirement, not improved employment. I do not object to those who wish to escape to the rural areas. I merely object to governments squandering resources on servicing them with costly trains.

Resources for public transport of all kinds are scarce. It is imperative not to squander them on insignificant outposts; it is far better for them to be spent improving service where it matters, such as the V/Line commuter services, or the Sydney Buses network.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Except they are not. Tree-change is a romantic Australian lie. Far more people leave the country to find work in the cities and regional centres than the other way around and it has pretty much been this way in Australia (and most of the planet) for over 100 years now. Mechanization of agriculture and a move towards service industries being the two primary reasons.
Mr. Lane
AND Sandpatch wrote...

'More and more people are leaving the big cities for a quieter life in the country'.

Perhaps Mr Lane you should do a head count (after the Christmas holiday break) at Ballarat where you will find that of the 4 commuter services that operate and arrive in Melbourne before 9am, there are upwards of 800 pax in Ballarat alone joining those 4 services each morning.

Mike.
  Mr. Lane Chief Commissioner

AND Sandpatch wrote...

'More and more people are leaving the big cities for a quieter life in the country'.

Perhaps Mr Lane you should do a head count (after the Christmas holiday break) at Ballarat where you will find that of the 4 commuter services that operate and arrive in Melbourne before 9am, there are upwards of 800 pax in Ballarat alone joining those 4 services each morning.

Mike.
The Vinelander

Ballarat is a major population centre, not a country town. It is exactly the type of urban centre that has drawn more people away from the country seeking better employment opportunities and better public services. I doubt that too many of those people you talk about are actually tree changers, some may be, but most would be existing Ballarat residents or new residents previously from country towns who moved there for the better services and fast(ish) connection to Melbourne. I am all for good public transport services to regional cities like Ballarat and within said cities.

That said 800 pax across four services is hardly earth shattering, considering a single set from Sunbury each morning will probably load 1200 by the time it leaves Footscray.
  ozfreight Chief Train Controller

Location: hawthorn 3122
Mr Lane is right on the money .

Edward
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Ballarat is a major population centre, not a country town.

That said 800 pax across four services is hardly earth shattering, considering a single set from Sunbury each morning will probably load 1200 by the time it leaves Footscray.
Mr. Lane
Compare 800 regular daily travellers to the less than 300 daily travellers pre 2005 when Sprinters and 3 commuter services were in operation and you'll find a 150% increase in patronage in 5 years is a remarkable achievement.

Moreover, there would be many Ballarat locals who work locally due to the 120 Km distance from Melbourne whereas in Sunbury due to its relatively close proximity to Melbourne would have a greater share of commuters.

Mike.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
For my two cents on the country population growth debate:

For people interested in a population 'heat map' there's a good one in this Age article from earlier this year here.

In a nutshell, most of metro Melbourne is growing quickly; the satellite cities of Geelong, Ballarat, Macedon Ranges and Gippsland are also growing - but once you leave the 'easy commuting' distance of Melbourne (and especially once you leave the coast) there's a significant decline evident.  Looking at the Wimmera (for example), some of the biggest declines in the country are happening in places like West Wimmera Shire, Rupanyup, Murtoa, Minyip etc.  The exception is Horsham itself which attracts retirees and school-leavers from those smaller towns looking for work.

Looking at Ballarat, the story is complicated by the push factor of Melbourne's extremely expensive housing - in the top ten most expensive cities in the world.  People are being driven further out by the extreme cost of housing but then they're forced to commute to Melbourne because there's not enough work there; the growth in daily commuting has been enormous.

Regional Fast Rail and now Regional Rail Link will probably spur this on further because they've effectively turned those regions into a commuter belt; getting a train from Ballarat is comparable to a journey from the Outer East so why pay $600,000 for an average house around Ringwood or Berwick when you can get the same house for $300,000 in Ballarat?  Melbourne is the closest city in Australia to that London/Home Counties model where you see dozens of trains packed with commuters from the country arriving every morning at the major stations; whether or not people in those towns want to be dormitory suburbs of Melbourne is another issue altogether.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Looking at Ballarat, the story is complicated by the push factor of Melbourne's extremely expensive housing - in the top ten most expensive cities in the world.  People are being driven further out by the extreme cost of housing but then they're forced to commute to Melbourne because there's not enough work there; the growth in daily commuting has been enormous.

Regional Fast Rail and now Regional Rail Link will probably spur this on further because they've effectively turned those regions into a commuter belt; getting a train from Ballarat is comparable to a journey from the Outer East so why pay $600,000 for an average house around Ringwood or Berwick when you can get the same house for $300,000 in Ballarat? Melbourne is the closest city in Australia to that London/Home Counties model where you see dozens of trains packed with commuters from the country arriving every morning at the major stations; whether or not people in those towns want to be dormitory suburbs of Melbourne is another issue altogether.
"don_dunstan"
Bolding mine for emphasis.

I think you're right. I think it's only a natural progression of the cost-induced sprawl of our metropolitan areas in all the large cities in Australia. It is far from ideal, but this is what is happening. At the same time, though, because the growth of 'commuter belt' regional centres is in existing cities like Ballarat, the original regional city population that live and work there can continue to exist. Surely being well-connected to Melbourne will ensure that local businesses can survive, and because of the heaving commuter belt, the towns will hold their positions.

That said, it's not the kind of growth I like. I've always opposed this outward movement, and instead favour densification of the heartland. Sure, the land in the inner suburbs is bloody expensive, but if you build quality apartment blocks you can provide good, affordable housing because you're spreading the land cost across many more residential properties.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line

That said, it's not the kind of growth I like. I've always opposed this outward movement, and instead favour densification of the heartland. Sure, the land in the inner suburbs is bloody expensive, but if you build quality apartment blocks you can provide good, affordable housing because you're spreading the land cost across many more residential properties.
Watson374
Hmm...not a lot of room in this scenario for my classic car collection, a vegie patch, green house, a cottonwood tree for my cat to climb, a rose garden...not to mention the lack of 'room for a pony'...

Mike.
  Donald Chief Commissioner

Location: Donald. Duck country.
Hmm...not a lot of room in this scenario for my classic car collection, a vegie patch, green house, a cottonwood tree for my cat to climb, a rose garden...not to mention the lack of 'room for a pony'...

Mike.
The Vinelander
What about the model railway empire in the shed?
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

Some anecdotal reflections on commuting from Provincial Vic to the big smoke:

Pre-RFR: Have a friend who tried to commute daily from Ballarat to city.  Gave up since service was unreliable (usually "point failure" etc.)

Post-RFR: Personally commuted 2 days per week from Bendigo to outer-Eastern suburbs (that's 3 hrs or more each way).  Typically the morning flagship service on the Up, Swan Hill N-set service on the Down.  Worked out well (loved the lifestyle of Bendigo) until I had to be in the office 3-4 days per week.  So moved down to big smoke - close to work.

I know a few people who find that 3 days per week Bendigo to City is fine.  They work the other 2 days of the week remotely from home.

As for the Maryborough line - unless trains connect with the Ballarat flagship services, I doubt patronage will grow much.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
What about the model railway empire in the shed?
Donald
Indeed....I for one and I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that I'll never live in a filing cabinet.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Hmm...not a lot of room in this scenario for my classic car collection, a vegie patch, green house, a cottonwood tree for my cat to climb, a rose garden...not to mention the lack of 'room for a pony'...

Mike.
"The Vinelander"
Sucks to be you. You can stay in the outer suburban areas, which are here to stay; I'm all for additional growth being densification in the inner areas.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Sucks to be you. You can stay in the outer suburban areas, which are here to stay; I'm all for additional growth being densification in the inner areas.
Watson374
To each their own...it would be a very boring world if we all thought and acted the same...
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Indeed....I for one and I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that I'll never live in a filing cabinet.
The Vinelander
A lot of people love it though.  I'm with you, I don't like the absence of a garden to play with but we're currently experiencing a growth rate of 100,000 people or so a year (a full MCG every year) in Melbourne and many of them are from parts of the world where apartment living is the norm and they prefer it when they get here.

In fact some people are prepared to pay big money to live in a filing cabinet. I was speaking to someone in the know recently who told me of a large luxury development in Kew where the average price is $2 million.  That sort of concept would have been unheard of 20 or 30 years ago - paying those kind of sums for an apartment in the suburbs.  However that's the sort of society we live in now isn't it... geographically one of the biggest countries in the world with tonnes of open space and yet our 'new Australians' want to pay millions to live in a filing cabinet in the 'burbs.  Weird.

As for the Maryborough line, it's sort of an orphan in that it doesn't connect to the commuter services to Melbourne in time (as others have observed).  This is a matter of changing the timetable though isn't it - in the future if services get quicker with RRL you might find that Ararat and Maryborough connect through to become part of the 'home counties' commuter belt...
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
As for the Maryborough line, it's sort of an orphan in that it doesn't connect to the commuter services to Melbourne in time (as others have observed).  This is a matter of changing the timetable though isn't it - in the future if services get quicker with RRL you might find that Ararat and Maryborough connect through to become part of the 'home counties' commuter belt...
don_dunstan
But why are you saying people should commute 364~412 km's each day to get to and from Melbourne, that's just way to far and the cost would be to great.
Ballarat Is the target destination for commuters on the Ararat and Maryborough train services.
(There are road coach connections for people who need to be In Melbourne earlier)
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Thank you Nightfire that is precisely why the timetable was constructed that way and mirrors the Echuca- Bendigo service.  The one disappointment is that there was supposed to be a day return service from Melbourne to Maryborough on weekends just like Echuca, and by now there should have been 1 or 2 mid week day return services as well.

As much as I am very passionate about regional rail passenger services I still believe Talbot was a wrong call.  The benchmark should be towns of around 1,000 population also stageically located around other centres within 15 to 20 minutes drive.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
But why are you saying people should commute 364~412 km's each day to get to and from Melbourne, that's just way to far and the cost would be to great.
Ballarat Is the target destination for commuters on the Ararat and Maryborough train services.
(There are road coach connections for people who need to be In Melbourne earlier)
Nightfire
I'm not saying people have to do it but those sort of distances aren't much of an obstacle to people in the UK.  Some commuting to London certainly involves those sort of distances; for example, Kent, Cambridge, Birmingham.  Again - as Watson and myself were discussing - it's an issue of whether we should encourage that sort of behaviour by providing services that allow it.  

At the moment those destinations beyond Ballarat aren't in the ball-park but in the future they might be, it would be a matter of rolling-stock and scheduling/paths, that's all.
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

I'm not saying people have to do it but those sort of distances aren't much of an obstacle to people in the UK.  Some commuting to London certainly involves those sort of distances; for example, Kent, Cambridge, Birmingham.  Again - as Watson and myself were discussing - it's an issue of whether we should encourage that sort of behaviour by providing services that allow it.
"don_dunstan"

Over the years in the UK, they have determined that about one hour is a commuting distance. Birmingham is 100 miles from London, and falls into that category. Although when we lived in that area the London commuters received a massive shock when (then) BR removed the generous discounts on yearly tickets, which made the whole idea uneconomic for many.

If Vline can get people from (say) Talbot to Melbourne in an hour, then commuting becomes feasible.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Over the years in the UK, they have determined that about one hour is a commuting distance. Birmingham is 100 miles from London, and falls into that category. Although when we lived in that area the London commuters received a massive shock when (then) BR removed the generous discounts on yearly tickets, which made the whole idea uneconomic for many.

If Vline can get people from (say) Talbot to Melbourne in an hour, then commuting becomes feasible.
duttonbay
You'd be looking at some fairly extensive works to try and get the commuting time from Talbot/Creswick to Melbourne (or Beaufort); timings will improve with Regional Rail Link but I'd imagine you'd still be looking at the odd 2 hours from those destinations to the city.

There would have to be really big money spent to improve those timings much more than that... you'd probably have to get rid of the Ingleston Bank for a start and the trains would have to cruise at more like 190-200 kmh.  Any inter-urban upgrades to the network of that scale would be looking at a few billion at least... given the completely unsympathetic state and federal governments we have presently that's highly unlikely to happen any time soon but maybe one day down the track.

What would you gain from that?  Well as we were discussing, we already have a 'home counties' model of commuting here in Victoria, much more so than they do in the (geographically constrained) Sydney; it would make that model even more attractive for a lot of people who want to escape Melbourne's ridiculous prices but need to keep going there for work.  Basically it's stretching the urban limits of Melbourne to make easy commuting to the city for work practical but I'm not sure people who live in those cities would be really happy about becoming (more of) a dormitory.  Some of them moved to the regions to get away from Melbourne and its people!
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
A lot of people love it though.  I'm with you, I don't like the absence of a garden to play with but we're currently experiencing a growth rate of 100,000 people or so a year (a full MCG every year) in Melbourne and many of them are from parts of the world where apartment living is the norm and they prefer it when they get here.

In fact some people are prepared to pay big money to live in a filing cabinet. I was speaking to someone in the know recently who told me of a large luxury development in Kew where the average price is $2 million.  That sort of concept would have been unheard of 20 or 30 years ago - paying those kind of sums for an apartment in the suburbs.  However that's the sort of society we live in now isn't it... geographically one of the biggest countries in the world with tonnes of open space and yet our 'new Australians' want to pay millions to live in a filing cabinet in the 'burbs.  Weird.
"don_dunstan"
I will come out of the filing cabinet and will admit I live in one and like it.

I know it seems weird, but we value convenience. It's convenience versus space. Sure, I might not have a back yard - I've spent all my life in filing cabinets of various sizes (some were quite generous, really), barring eighteen miserable months in a semi-detached that my parents gave up as a bad job (which was replaced by another fantastic filing cabinet). In Sydney, in Malaysia (barring those 18 months), in Hong Kong - all filing cabinets.

It's about convenience. Sure, I might not be able to play cricket on my own lawn, but I can go downstairs and have a whole set of facilities and services at my disposal. I can't have water play on the grass, but I can go downstairs to a supermarket, some cafes, frequent buses, etc. I value convenience over having a yard.

Also, it's better land use.

Well as we were discussing, we already have a 'home counties' model of commuting here in Victoria, much more so than they do in the (geographically constrained) Sydney; it would make that model even more attractive for a lot of people who want to escape Melbourne's ridiculous prices but need to keep going there for work.  Basically it's stretching the urban limits of Melbourne to make easy commuting to the city for work practical but I'm not sure people who live in those cities would be really happy about becoming (more of) a dormitory.  Some of them moved to the regions to get away from Melbourne and its people!
"don_dunstan"
Sucks to be them. I suppose if Victorian people want a 'home counties' commuter belt along the Regional Fast Rail lines, then they should get it.

I'll go as far as to suggest that we should encourage high-rises in the city, to cater for people like me who like them - honestly, it's good for sales when one plot of land suddenly becomes a tower, and suddenly a lot more homes can be sold - and will live in them; but that we should also permit the growth of the 'home counties' model.

I mean, London works like that too. They have high rises in the Docklands for people like me, and they have the Home Counties for people like you guys. We all win.

Except that I live in Sydney, and we're stuffed. Sydney needs high-rise housing in inner areas quite badly, because spreading further out is not going to work. Not when interurban trains already take over an hour to get to Gosford.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Over the years in the UK, they have determined that about one hour is a commuting distance. Birmingham is 100 miles from London, and falls into that category. Although when we lived in that area the London commuters received a massive shock when (then) BR removed the generous discounts on yearly tickets, which made the whole idea uneconomic for many.

If Vline can get people from (say) Talbot to Melbourne in an hour, then commuting becomes feasible.
duttonbay
When I was in the UK  a few months ago and staying in Exeter, I was impressed that a HST got me from London Paddington to Exeter St Davids station in 2 hrs. Obviously that's an average speed of 160KPH or 100MPH as Exeter is 200 miles from London. A quick check of the local train T/T has a service departing Exeter at 5:45am and arriving London at 8:45. Evenings has on average a train every hour so its theoretically possible to commute 400 miles or 640Km round trip every day. No doubt there aren't too many hardy, nor exceptionally WEALTHY souls up for it.

Fares are interesting for a monthly ticket for that distance:

Economy: £1437.70 or $2668.80
First:       £2870.10 or $5327.75

V/Line monthly fare from Talbot to Melbourne is: $510.00.

Clearly rail fares in the UK are WAY more expensive than here in Victoria.

Well I'm off to Port Fairy on the first down (free) service of 1/1/2014.

Mike.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
It may surprise some but at one stage Department of Transport did have a very good regional transport planning and services group who were proactive in developing initiatives to maximise the investment of the Regional Fast Rail Project and delivered the new reginal train and road coach timetable through 2006. They even undertook numerous workshops with users and the community across regional Victoria. From this 2 hours travel was considered the upper end of daily commuting potential to Melbourne and about 1 hour travel time for daily commuting travel into regional centres such as Ballarat, Bendigo etc.  some rail pagers will recall the new commuter timed trips added into Ballarat and Bendigo and as referred to earlier the revamped Echuca service which has loads of daily commuters out of Echuca , Elmore and Rochester. This was part of the thinking for the Maryborough service. If you look closely you'll see similar services operated by road coach and/or train out of Colac to Geelong and wan garrotte into Albury/Wodonga plus several others.

Sadly that unit has effectively gone under PTV and the current Government doesn't appear to have the appetite to want to pursue this.  So at 2 hours as a guide establishing commuter timed trips from Maryborough to Melbourne is really not going to happen.  Spend about 35 to 40 million on level crossing upgrades and some associated minor track upgrade on the Shepparton Corridor for 130km per hour VLocity operations to deliver a trip time of 2 hours and 5 minutes and a whole new corridor for commuting to Melbourne from Shep, Nagambie and even Murchison East and associated communities has very significant potential.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Thanks for that interesting reflection on commuter services in Victoria.

There was a thread about the Maryborough service a while back and although many people complained about the waste of sending a single train up that line every day I can see the longer-term strategic idea of developing a commuter-base along that corridor for people wishing to work in Ballarat but not necessarily live there.  The idea that people should move to the country because it's better to have development evenly spread through-out the state is a good one but it needs to be followed though with the provision of services or it's just empty rhetoric... or a case of 'do as I say, not as I do'.

Shepparton and the Goulburn Valley in general needs some money spent on it with the rapid contraction in jobs experienced there in the last few years, however I feel that given the current drive to put all available resources into the East-West project it's highly unlikely that there will be any capital expenditure on any rail projects for the next few years... even with the impending State election later this year.

It's really unfortunate that the momentum built up by RFR and now RRL isn't being followed through with a continuous improvement program.

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