Melbourne’s new train line from city to airport

Taken from The Age, shows the states budget for the new railway project

The rail system in Australia has gone through many changes ever since the first steam railway traveled from Melbourne to Port Melbourne. Initially, private companies operated the first railway lines in Australia. However, as the situation grew worse for private companies, the smaller governments around the country took over the construction and management of the railway lines. By 1901, all the states in Australia were connected with a railway line, with the exception of Western Australia. Around 1917, anybody who wanted to travel between Perth and Brisbane had to change trains six or more times.

Australians had to wait until 1995 before they could use the standard gauge railway when traveling from Brisbane to Perth, via Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. Fast forward to the present day, and the government, through Prime Minister Mike Baird, announced that it expects to build a new railway line – The North West Rail Link, or NWRL. The line will be the first ever, fully-computerized express transit rail link in Australia. With this new line, trains now have the chance of running four times in an hour, especially during the peak periods. The most important feature is that the rail link allows for remotely operated trains.

Largest Ever Partnership between the Public and Private Sectors

NWRL is the largest ever partnership between the state and the private sector. The contract is the biggest ever to have been awarded in the NSW region. During the off peaks, the train would be departing the stating after every ten minutes. The same shall apply during the weekends and at night. This means that during the peak hours, 15 trains will be departing the station and transporting commuters in an hour. During off peak hours, weekends, and at night, only six trains will depart and transport commuters to their preferred destinations. This rule applies for trains that will be leaving Rouse Hill for Chatswood.

$8.3 billion Budget Set Aside for NWRL

To construct the rail link, the public and private sector have had to raise more than $8.3 billion. The first stage of the construction has already commenced where eth government announced that it has set aside $3.7 billion to kick-start the construction. The government hopes that the construction will be complete in good time for commuters to board the first train on this new link in 2019. Prior to this, the government had said that it expects to see 12 trains transporting travelers along this new line per hour. The government has adjusted this to 15 trains per hour.

Population in the Melbourne’s North West region is expected to grow exponentially in the next decade. The government hopes that when this happens, it will be able to add more trains to serve the bigger population. Currently, the trains shall carry around 1,000 passengers at a time. Out of the 1,000 passengers, 400 will sit and 600 shall stand. The government has announced plans to construct eight new stations. Five of the stations that already exist will undergo upgrading. Moreover, the government will provide 4,000 commuters with parking spaces.

The project will deliver:

  • twin tunnels from Southern Cross to South Yarra as part of a new Frankston to Lilydale/Belgrave line
  • new underground stations at Fishermans Bend (Montague) and Domain
  • new underground platforms at Southern Cross and South Yarra stations
  • the Melbourne Airport Rail Link, connecting Melbourne Airport to Southern Cross Station and the Cranbourne-Pakenham corridor
  • train-tram interchanges at the new underground stations
  • supporting works across the rail network to improve train reliability and passenger interchange facilities
  • a package of tram and bus improvements to the Parkville precinct.

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Composition of the Private Consortium that won the Contract

The Northwest Rapid Transit is the name of the private consortium that won the contract. The consortium comprises MTR Corporation of Hong Kong, Leighton Contractors, John Holland, and Plenary Group. Alstom, one of the world-renowned train suppliers, will be in charge of constructing the new trains to be used along this new line. Alstom has already made similar trains for Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Singapore and Milan. The government, through its Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, said that this development is in response to what commuters need.

Commuters in Melbourne have always believed on the importance of having frequent rail or train services. The government says that commuters will not require a timetable with the new NWRL. Commuters will only have to turn up at the station, wait for their train, and go. This will not take more than 10 minutes during the off peak hours, on weekends, and at night. However, during the peak hours, commuters will not spend more than 4 minutes at the station before boarding the train and departing to their preferred destination.

Initially, six carriage trains will be in use. However, if need be, carriages and trains shall be added to serve the large demand by commuters. During construction, the platforms will be built in such a way that they have adequate room for eight-carriage trains. The trains will be fitted with enough seats. The trains will also boast of several multipurpose areas where commuters can leave their prams and luggage. Each station will have a team of highly trained customer service assistants manning it. The assistants will move along the network round the clock, day and night.

Finally, some critics believe that double deck trains would be ideal for this project. Supporters of the project believe that single deck carriages are the best since they take less time to load. More importantly, the heavier double deck carriages will need more time to brake and speed, which would defeat the purpose for the project.