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(AUS)Changes leave commuters out of the loop

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From The Age:


Changes leave commuters out of the loop


Clay Lucas

June 16, 2011


IT'S a symbol of their transport woes: to travel from home in Altona to a protest rally at Parliament House today, protesters will need to take three trains.


Transport Minister Terry Mulder last month oversaw changes to Melbourne's train timetables in an attempt to improve Metro's operations and reduce its financial penalties.


The changes removed direct city services for Altona residents at off-peak times. Now they must change at Newport, and again at North Melbourne, if they want to access City Loop stations.


Despite promises from Mr Mulder that rail services would co-ordinate so well Altona commuters would face only seven-minute waits at Newport, cancellations and late-running trains are causing far longer delays.


Buses that also used to sometimes connect with trains, no longer do.


The Altona Loop Residents Group, which organised today's rally, says disabled and elderly people and schoolchildren who rely on trains are now waiting longer, or finding other means of transport. The changes had already driven many away from using the train, the group's Sandra Wilson said yesterday.


''A lot of us in this community believe we may ultimately have to fight for this train line's survival again,'' she said.


A previous Liberal government, in 1981, announced it would close several suburban rail lines, including Altona, but backed away from some closures after savage public protests.


Ms Wilson said hundreds of students at Altona's Mount St Joseph Girls' College have had a 15-minute commute home turned into between 40 and 60 minutes because they now had to catch two trains.


Mr Mulder had previously met with the group and promised to ''have another look'' at the timetable before the timetable change in May, Ms Wilson said. ''I don't think he had another look at all,'' she said.


The minister has been invited to a 1pm meeting with the group at Parliament today. ''We will have an empty chair with Terry Mulder's name on it,'' said Greens MP Colleen Hartland, who has been working with the group.


Thus far, the only other MP attending the meeting is Labor's Jill Hennessy, the member for the Altona district.


Mr Mulder said he would not attend the meeting. He argued the new timetable had succeeded in reducing the number of trains Metro was diverting away from Altona at the last minute. ''This means that Seaholme, Altona and Westona residents have more certainty with their trains,'' he said.


Mr Mulder said Ms Hartland had previously skipped a meeting he had held with Altona residents, instead ''only attending a media stunt'' held to coincide with it.



They seriously think the line is going to dissapear.....honestly.

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I had wondered why they were so intent on making local trains skip the loop whilst there were expresses continuing beyond Werribee. It's only three stations, and it isn't a very big deviation. Then I noticed: it's single track, and therefore scheduling hell.


I wonder how many of the protesters would still back keeping the loop if the alternative were presented: double-tracking it through their neighborhood.

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It would be very difficult to dual track it through the middle. Very limited space from Westona to Seaholme. Most of the track is between 2 roads. The other side of Westona you can do it all the way to Laverton Junction. Seahome to Altona Junction would need a bit of work but it's possible.

The other reason to skip the loop is speed. Altona Junction beyond it's 115KM/h of straightish track. Via the loop it's 65KM/h to 80Km/h.


Of course in reality if the trains from Werribee ran on time there wouldn't be a problem.

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