LaceDendrite, Woodford and others are pretty much on the money in regards to what has to be done from Seymour south to accommodate increased train numbers on the SG that would come about with gauge standardization of the Murray Valley Lines together with a much needed ramp up on the Shepparton Line service. Whilst it may look bullish now, the tonneage forecasts ARTC were working on around 2008 proposed that by 2013-2016, a full duplication south of Seymour undertaken by linking together the passing lanes/crossing loops in some sections. For others it was proposed and still could likely be that the Broad Gauge up main would become the ARTC second main beyond Wallan in certain sections and it was for this reason that the BG up main was not (for a period of time) relaid with concrete sleepers but used timber sleepers to facilitate gauge conversion. For sure the numbers of trains currently on the SG is low but the forecasters still say the freight transport task will still grow quite incredibly going forward, so this is just a tiny lull in what is otherwise an ever increasing task going forward.
The idea for the broad gauge was and still is that it be electrified to Wallan with installation of stabling for Metro sets and a new set of platforms to facilitate transfer of passengers between V/Line and Metro services. North of Wallan the broad gauge would be singled in places where no second track currently exists on the SG to be the second main. And some sections of the BG would revert to single line working with crossing loops at stations or where double SG track already applies the broad gauge would have effectively passing lanes as well.
Gauge converting and pushing all the Shepparton services over to standard gauge means the Seymour Line would then handle all stops broad gauge services only from Wallan to Seymour as donnybrook becomes part of the MET and the track capacity to handle a 30 minute frequency in either direction plus more frequent following services in the peak flow direction is also possible. As part of these works the Seymour Line would finally get CTC or equivalent signaling which is currently well over due and limits the frequency of trains which is a problem today.
South of basically Craigieburn/Somerton is a problem now and will be going forward for V/Line/Met and SG passenger services. The Met side is saturated in the peak. V/Line either can’t get increased paths on BG and all paths are reasonably slow and problematic in the peak. On the SG the route for passenger trains is extremely long and extremely slow and with increased freight movements won’t get better, so the following is an option rather than trying to ram increased track capacity via Jacana and through Tottenham and the flyover which would still result in a relatively lengthy trip and be hugely expensive to provide in terms of land take and construction..
This is to dual gauge from Somerton to Upfield to North Melbourne. The Upfield Line has lots of capacity including at peak and interpeak and to add roughly 8 Shepparton trips each way plus 4 V/Line Albury and 2 XPT services each way per day on this corridor is really nothing. During peak periods you would only need to accommodate 1 V/Line up service in the morning to arrive SX before 0820/0825 and in the PM peak you would have a Shep down service around 1600, 1700 ish. Line speed maybe restricted to 80km/hr the route is very direct and whilst slow it would deliver a consistent timetable with a consistent journey time for additional trips as the MET service is a consistent all stops service. So in this regard you schedule the regional service ahead of the Met in either reduction and set the run time so that it runs at consistent speed (albeit slow) to avoid signal by signal stopping in catching the service ahead noting that Met is on a 15 to 20 minute frequency. I’m sure our more analytical rail pagers can work out what they maybe as I’m doing this on my mobile.
Whether of any potential benefit it maybe possible to increase line speed modestly in the outer sections of the Upfield Line as SG services are not impacted by the 80km/hr limit affecting BG services on dual gauge track
I’m not currently able to access Vicsig to get an idea of distance and a possible journey time. Whilst there is a bit of a concern about the impact between Nth Melbourne and SX during peak periods, it by the same toke frees up train paths on the Broadie Line with Sheppartons off it and of course takes SG trains off the Nth Melburne Flyover.
Construction wise like to be extremely less costly than quadruplication of the SG and relaying the Upfield Line with new dual gauge sleepers gives this line an improvement in track quality as well.