Upfield Line extension needed for northern suburbs transport corridor capacity issue

Northern Suburbs Transport capacity – Infrastructure Australia

The latest report by Infrastructure Australia highlights that within 11 years the Hume Freeway will be the most congested corridor in Victoria, and the Craigieburn line will exceed capacity by a factor of four.

The transport capacity issue problem is listed as to be addressed in 10-15 years. This is far too long to wait given population growth of this region.

Now is the time for the State Government to start work on upgrading the Upfield line. The first stage would be upgrading the single track between Gowrie and Upfield stations to duplicated track done as a priority, during closure of the Upfield line due to elevation of the rail in Coburg with level crossing removal. Upgrade of Upfield station to dual platform should be part of this work.

A second stage would be extending the tracks along the Somerton line to Roxburgh Park and to Craigieburn. This would require grade separation of the inland rail track at Roxburgh Park and incorporate station access at Roxburgh Park. Campbellfield Station should be built, which would provide good public transport access for punters visiting The Meadows.

A third stage would involve extending the dual track, with electrification through Donnybrook and Mickleham to Wallan.

The Upfield bike path should be extended built as part of the staged construction.

We can’t afford to wait till 2030 for this work to start. Meetro Tunnel will open in 2025. This will provide spare capacity in the loop for Upfield trains, but without addressing the single track problem in the north part of the line reliability and frequency cannot be addressed. Track duplication and upgrade to Upfield Station ideally should also be complete by 2025.

The Somerton extension to Craigieburn should also be completed by 2025, when Metro tunnel opens.

The extension to Wallan could occurr by 2027-2028.

Sustainable Transport Campaigner John Englart at Upfield Station

It is vital that good public transport is in place for the growing residential suburbs on Melbourne’s northern periphery. This will reduce traffic congestion and parking issues in suburbs closer to Melbourne. It is also a social equity issue enabling access to those who don’t drive, such as teenagers. Good public transport provision also means the possibility of fewer vehicles needed per family, a cost saving for families and in terms of reduced congestion and pollution.

Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan and Premier Daniel Andrews need to step up and address the increasing lack of good public transport in Melbourne’s northern region, given the population growth, which will become a crisis if not addressed in a reasonable time frame.

Sustainable Transport Campaigner John Englart at Extend the Upfield Bike Path campaign has provided an overview of cycling issues in the northern suburbs with projects listed in the Infrastructure Australia 2020 priority list.

Here is what the Infrastructure Australia report said on the Melbourne outer northern suburbs to CBD capacity upgrade:

“The 2015 Australian Infrastructure Audit noted that by 2031 the Hume Freeway would become the most congested corridor in Victoria, with a total delay cost of around $172 million per year. The Audit also projects that demand for rail transit in the corridor, on the Craigieburn Line, will exceed capacity by a factor of four by 2031. In the absence of transport capacity improvements, the Audit indicates that daily vehicle movements on the Hume Freeway would grow from 43,100 in 2011 to 107,400 by 2031, making the rail line the most crowded in Melbourne.

“Traffic demand growth along the corridor is expected to be driven by population and employment growth in the area. Victorian Government projections indicate that population in the corridor is expected to almost double between 2015 and 2031, while the Northern Growth Corridor Plan indicates the corridor has the capacity to accommodate between 83,000 and 105,000 new jobs.”

Proposed initiative
Develop options to address demand for transport services in the corridor.

Next steps
Proponent to be identified.

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