People are forgetting there is a plan and a logic to all this .
- RRL was built to separate VLP trains from Metro trains on the Geelong & Ballarat lines, and partly on the Bendigo line.
- Capacity released on Werribee and Sunbury lines is required to run additional planned Metro services on both lines.
- Running stopping Metro trains mixed in with Limited Stop VLP trains operationally condemns the VLP tarin to the slower Metro times. Classic example Southern Cross to Pakenham .
NOW for the umpteenth time 9 car V/Locities are NOT an option account very high opex, very high capex, and actually reduces the number of possible peak departures & arrivals at Sthn Cross as 9 car trains take up two platform faces . Also platform extension and signalling issues at Little River and in the Geelong area preclude 9 car V/Locity operations .
The FACTS are RRL is at effective peak capacity now so limited or little scope of running extra peak services . What we need now are longer V/Locity trains NOT more V/Locity 3 car trains . So we need to insert a trailer car into 44 of the ultimate 88 x 3 car sets to give a V/locity Commuter fleet of 44 x 3 car sets and 44 x 4 car sets . Then we can run all peak Geelong & Ballarat as 7 car sets with a 34 % increase in peak capacity short term on both lines over all peak services .
Currently VLP with only 3 car sets can only run train sizes of 3 or 6 cars, whereas with a mix of 3 and 4 car sets VLP can run train sizes of 3, 4, 6, 7 or 8 cars .
7 car sets have run to Geelong before and 7 car Geelong operations require only a couple of platform extensions . Recent and current works on the Ballarat line are said to allow for 7 car operations . (Caroline Springs plats are 193m long) .
Further VLP can potentially save $ tens millions p.a. in opex by having more train size options . e:g: 1658 Dn Traralgon runs as 6 VL but only loads to 55 %, but loads within the 312 capacity of a 4 car VL set. With 260 Weekdays in a year the extra opex being needlessly incurred in operating 6 cars instead of 4 is of the order of $ 250,000 p.a.
Now people say all the maintenance facilities are set up for 3 car sets, well that just highlights the lack of forward planning / vision in locking in to a strictly 3 car fleet - operationally lazy and expensive ; and the poor pax on Geelong are now suffering from those poor past decisions .
Finally if one acquires 18 x extra 3 car sets and replaces all remaining Geelong and Melton/Marsh loco hauleds with 6 car V/Locities(remembering there is minimal scope to run extra sevrices account RRL at capacity.) the capacity increase you get on Geelong is around 15 % and Ballarat 20 % and then only on the replaced loco hauled services . Alternatively buy 44 trailer cars and you get a third increase in peak capacity in both corridors over all services .
Additionally the current peak V/locity utilization is not very good - in that many sets do one trip each way a day !!!
So capex for 54 powered cars or capex for 44 trailer cars - the trailer cars are obviously miles cheaper . Opex goes up by around 20 % for a third increase in seating capacity with 7 car sets .
This is followed immediately by separate VLP express tracks from Sunshine to Black Forest Rd and Melton .
So with RRL at capacity the need is for extra capacity between Sunshine and Southern Cross and that is where the Government has already telegraphed using a new tunnel pair to host AIRtrain and potentially Geelong services - thus the FAST TRAIN suggestion .
That would take Geelongs off RRL and leave spare paths for Ballarat & Wynndham Vale sparks . BUT the Geelongs in a new tunnel from Southern Cross to Sunshine then need to be bi-modal traction or sparks . All this as Governemnt has proposed and partly explained is a developing story as far as sparks to Wyndham Vale and melton, and the talk of fast trains to Geelong .
IMHO realistically 200kmh maximum on existing Class-1 track with separate tracks again for VLP from Sunshine to Black Forest Rd & Melton . Get get too hung up on 35 minute trip times . Remember the RFR flagship schedules of 45 minutes to Geelong, but as one peak trip each way . Now a distant memory with such huge passenger volumes at Lara, North Geelong then all stations to Waurn Ponds.