What is a Metro and why do we need one?

With the Rail Industrial action going on, there is a lot of misinformation being spread around but nobody seems to be asking the really important questions.


A Metro is a Railway Network that is designed to ferry large numbers of passengers short distances using rail cars.  It is characterised by a complete segregation from pedestrians and roads (usually underground).  It is a system used in extremely large and populous cities.  Because passengers are only traveling short distances the rail cars are distinct in their lack of seating.  Metro systems often require a lot of interchanges to get from one side of the city to the other.

Note the complex map, where lines cover almost all of the city.


The simple answer is: we don’t.

Melbourne doesn’t have the population density that requires a ‘Metro’.  Our system brings in people from the Suburbs of Melbourne and outer regional towns into two central locations in the city (Southern Cross and Flinders Street) with the most populous areas of Melbourne serviced by the City Loop.  Passengers then often walk or use trams to get to other destinations in the city.

This works fairly well for Melbourne.  Do we need a Metro?  No.


MTM don’t want to turn Melbourne’s Rail Network into a Metro though, they want to turn it into a “Metro Style” Network.

MTM want to remove all connections between lines, so that there will be (in the end) 16 entirely separate lines.


  • There are substantial contracts to be found in ripping apart a rail network

MTM stand to pick up a 500 million dollar contract to dismantle the connections between Richmond and Flinders Street.

Their own documents state that trains traveling between Richmond and Flinders Street will save 10 seconds.


Then of course there will be more money to rip up connections between Flinders Street and Southern Cross, then ripping up the connections at North Richmond.

  • A Network completely separated requires duplication of resources

Once again MTM would be able to pick up substantial contracts.  Each separate line would require its own maintenance facility, its own train wash, its own wheel lathe.  Each of these are million dollar contracts.  Each line would require its own management structure and its own separate workforce.

  • Once the network is entirely separated (Into 16 different systems) it can then be sold off.

It is difficult to find a company willing to invest money in running our network.  Once each line is completely separate, it would be easy to sell it off entirely (tracks and trains and all) to different bidders.  This was the Liberal Governments ultimate end-goal.  MTM would be a lot happier to buy its own line or two without the restrictions of having to perform maintenance to a government dictated ‘standard’.  England did this and now they are trying to fix it: Time to end the disaster of Rail Privatisation.


There are two ways the Melbourne Rail Network can go.  It can go further towards a flexible network or flexibility can be removed in favour of rigidity.

MTM claim that they need to separate the network physically in order to isolate incidents to one line.  Where flexibilty allows smaller delays to be spread across the network, rigidity forces entire shutdowns of a single line.

If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.


Ian Dobbs was the head of PTV when the ‘Network Development Plan’ was made up.  He is the highly paid public servant who came up with the Shambolic plan to split the network into Hillside and Bayside trains back in the nineties.  Ian Dobbs then took up a post in London when they split up their network, he then came back to Melbourne to re-implement his plan.  Victoria paid a steep price putting the network back together again after the split disaster.  London is now facing a huge problem putting their network back after Ian Dobb’s failed privatisation plan.  We have a chance to stop that here before it even begins.



The “Metro Style Network” is written down in the PTV Network Development Plan.

All it requires is the Labor Government to announce that they are moving away from the Network Development Plan.

If the Victorian Government announce that they are moving away from a “Metro Style System”, MTM will not be able to destroy the Melbourne Rail Network.

Why not email Jacinta Allen and ask her to publicly denounce the PTV Network Development Plan.



  1. Riccardo

    It’s a shame rubbish like this gets written.

    Melbourne needs a metro because it will not too far away have 8 million people and the traffic will not be able to move.

    Dave, you are being too kind even writing as much as you did.

    I agree with Marcus on this too:

    “Someone needs to stick to the fight for fair employment conditions, and not the transport planning domain?”


    • Lamont Cranton

      That might require some additional lines in the inner city

      But that doesn’t mean the suburban commuter network operates ‘metro style’


      • David Stosser

        That’s exactly what it means – trains can’t magically change from commuter to metro between stations, and once we have a Metro network combined with smart urban planning, the commuter network will be obsolete so we might as well convert it to either Metro or Intercity as appropriate.


  2. David Stosser

    (I asked the blog owner to delete my previous post, because I wasn’t able to edit it.)


    We will absolutely need a Metro system within 10 years or so, and because of long lead times on planning and construction, we need to start now. That’s the only way to properly serve the various activity districts we’ll end up with by 2050 – aside from the Hoddle grid, places like Frankston, Dandenong, Ringwood, Sunshine, Werribee etc.

    “Metro” means more than segregated lines. It means few seats, lots of standing room and doors per carriage, and is designed for trips up to 25-35min per vehicle. Of course, MTM stole the term and tried to use it as a marketing tool. Trying to introduce a Metro between say Pakenham and Melbourne is downright stupid, but Pakenham and Clayton to Dandenong works, just as Clayton to Melbourne works. Then, through-route because it saves time. Driverless trains help with Metro capacity by allowing more trains per hour, since lineside signalling allows 10sec “sighting and reaction time” at signals, and other things like platform screen doors reduce platform dwell time. Double-deck trains are a mistake: the measure should be people per hour through the system at any given location, not per train. DD means more passengers per door, so longer dwell time, longer headways etc.

    However, that’s separate from the Intercity network we’ll also need, joining the above cities as well as the regional areas. That’s why we need, for example, four tracks to Dandenong. Two tracks for the Metro, running up to 30tph in peaks. The other pair is for the sum of empty car moves; V/Line; MTM express (hopefully renamed), freight to Lyndhurst and Maryvale; Bombardier transfers and everything else. That adds up to around 10-15tph, the maximum practical when trains have different power:weight ratios, stopping patterns and braking abilities.

    Saying we don’t need a Metro is exactly the same as saying RRL (Southern Cross to Sunshine section) was a waste of money. It’s stupid.


  3. Dave & 1/2


    Riccardo & Stosser – Are you REALLY that stupid, or is your real name Devic?
    You just don’t get it do you?

    This is a monumental FRAUD, being perpetrated by MTM – majority OWNED by MTR Corporation – itself MAJORITY OWNED BY THE HONG KONG GOVERNMENT – as a ‘construct’ – a mechanism to RIP and GOUGE BILLIONS (yes with a ‘B’) of dollars from the taxpayers of Victoria, on the way to being sold off as separate ‘businesses’, and so perpetuate the theft of public assets, and deliver them, (and DECADES of CASH FLOW, PROFITS, BONUSES, and LUCRATIVE CONTRACTS into the hands of corporate PARASITES.
    The system has never been in worse condition than it is now – maintenance, infrastructure, ethos and morale are all at the lowest ebb EVER!
    Even the staff refer to the place as ‘The Ebola Railway’.
    And then there’s the OUTRAGEOUS number – HUNDREDS – of 457 VISA ‘Jobs for the (otherwise unemployable, recycled has-been) Boys’ from the Old Dart.
    We DON’T need a metro like this – IF we need on at all – and I would argue that we don’t!
    8 separate railways = 8 separate dung hills for 8 separate dysfunctional management structures on the road to selling them off to 8 separate (Chinese owned?) private companies?

    If you want $3.00 ‘flannie shirts’, and $5.00 drills and grinders from certain department and hardware stores, and staff on half wages – or full wages, but refund 50% to the boss – outside the view of cameras, of course (see – http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2015/s4305800.htm and http://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace-relations/7eleven-allan-fels-to-lead-wage-inquiry-20150903-gjehxu.html, and http://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace-relations/7eleven-reaps-millions-from-churning-franchisees-20150906-gjg6li.html, and http://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace-relations/7eleven-investigation-exposes-shocking-exploitation-of-convenience-store-workers-20150828-gja276.html), and NO PENALTY RATES then don’t complain when the ‘evil’ unions and their ‘undeserving’ members are crushed, and the forces of darkness come after you, and YOUR wages and conditions – because YOU are NEXT, as surely as night follows day!
    That’s EXACTLY where this is heading.
    And don’t even ask me about the China Free Trade Agreement FRAUD!

    Dave & 1/2
    (Unlike Stosser, the Dave with half a brain!)


  4. Concerned Melbournian

    Melbourne’s public transport system is sub-standard and needs to be improved if it is to continue seeing the patronage growth we have seen in the last 20 years.

    Is the original poster able to provide thoughts on how we might cater for the expected growth if not for a metro-nisation of the system?


    • victransportnews

      The admin of the facebook page forwarded me some interesting statistics regarding “Metro” Systems (I should probably include it in the original article):

      …Towards the end of the report (article in the Age) it mentions Hong Kong, Paris and London “metro” services as the benchmark that we in Melbourne should be following to achieve MTM’s grand plan (or, for those of a more dystopian persuasion, Brave New World). It also states that major cities in China, India and the Middle East are using this as the model in which they develop mass transit, multi-modal public transport systems.

      Let’s have another quick and dirty play with the statistics.

      Take London Underground, part of which was the plaything of a CEO who washed up on antipodean shores. They have 270 stations over 11 lines covering 402km of track. Around 25% more stations on just under half the network size we operate. That equates to one station every 1.488 (lots more 8’s) km’s. With a bit of rounding (1.49) the equivalent number of stations on the Melbourne network is 557 stations in the suburban area.

      If one looks at Métro de Paris you have 303 stations over 214km of track. Playing the Devil’s Advocate there is a station every 706 metres on average. That is the same as 1,185 stations on the Melbourne network!

      Making it simple, the Sandringham line which is 30km in a down direction now has 21 stations as opposed to 14.

      Paris, London and Hong Kong are high intensity rapid transit systems supporting a considerably larger population. The trains on the Paris Metro, London Underground, New York Subway, even the Moscow Metro only dream of travelling at the speeds we do!

      China and India are building mass public transport systems to carry more people in one day than we have living in Melbourne. We are not at the critical capacity for mass transport on this scale. Mr “I’m a modern Brunel” reckons there will be tunnels all under Melbourne. Not likely considering the sludge we are built on and the engineering works that would be required.

      Public transport systems are built around the current population and anticipated increases.


      Having put that in there I’d like to say that I’m not opposed to Metro Systems in general. Trains can carry a lot more passengers than trams (which is basically our answer to other cities metro’s). Why destroy a Suburban train system to attempt to turn it into something it’s not? A much better plan would be to look forward and build a separate Metro System that links in with Suburban stations in and around Melbourne?

      My personal stance on the issue is: Don’t destroy our Suburban system in an attempt to make a half-arsed Metro system.


  5. Riccardo

    You are obviously enjoying your world view (or delusion) so I will leave you to it. Why spoil the party? This is basically an ideological disagreement and changing a person’s ideology doesn’t work.

    I have posted a link to this post to SSC.


  6. Riccardo

    I should add, so you know what ideological position you are dealing with, I regard the Victorian Railways as a mistake back to the 1850s, so its not even about unions for me, but an ‘original sin’ that the railways here were born with.


  7. David Stosser

    Ideally, we’d have four separate public transport networks – feeder, for trips up to 15min, Metro, for trips up to 35min, Intercity for trips up to 60min and Regional for everything else (including interstate). Stock, express patterns, pricing, technology etc should all be keyed to that.

    Re train speeds, Metros do not travel quickly, and that’s a problem if you want people commuting from Pakenham to Flinders Street on a daily basis. That’s where we need urban planning solutions rather than transport/infrastructure solutions – if the person in Pakenham could get the same job with the same pay in Dandenong, their commute time would cut to 1/3rd and the train would have a spare spot for other people on the rest of the trip.

    Re: “If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.” – the problem is that it will be ‘broke’ in about ten years, and it takes time to build things to fix those problems. In ten years or so, we will have reached the maximum capacity of the current suburban system, and if we don’t start designing and building extra track now, we’ll be stuffed then (not to mentioned 2035, 2050 and later). The only answer that will work (with commute time less than 2 hours) is to recycle the current train system into two separate networks – Metro, and express trains. Imagine fitting the Siemens fleet with VLocity interiors, instead of the stupid idea to run Metro trains Pakenham to Sunbury.

    I’ve seen arguments in the past to keep the current system and build a new Metro under Melbourne. It won’t work because it’s too expensive, and it would make large chunks of the existing system obsolete anyway. Also, I don’t like to think of the tram network as that. Long term, it should be split into some streetcars (feeder) and some light rail (Metro), but no route should try to do both because it will fail.

    Right now, the two best candidates for Metrofication (yes, I just invented a word) are the Sandringham and Upfield lines, because of their closely-spaced stations. Instead of the Metro Tunnel, my preference would be to run from Windsor to Jewell via Domain and Parkville, then delete Upfield station, curve west under Camp Rd (with station there), run to Broadmeadows and Tullamarine. That would have a line length of maybe 45km, with say 30 stations – spacing on average every 1.5km. Other lines would be either Metro or Intercity, or both with extra tracks, i.e. four tracks to Dandenong – two Metro and two Express.

    Re tunnels – engineers can solve all sorts of problems with enough concrete, and elevated rail (possibly built through buildings) is also a legitimate answer. I wouldn’t be surprised if, say by 2070 or so, we ended up with six platforms at Parkville.

    @Other Dave:
    I get that you’re angry, and you’re right to be. But MTM being evil doesn’t make Metros or split systems evil. Also, no idea who Devic is?

    Re “billions of dollars” – small change compared to benefits of changing our public transport system into something world-class, as long as that actually happens.

    Re system condition – compare to say ARTC’s side-insert resleepering, or the Victorian freight system in 2003, or the entire VR network between 1945 and Operation Phoenix? We’ve got problems, but we’re not the worst in history.

    Re staff morale – incredibly low at the moment, enough evidence for me that MTM is doing something seriously wrong and it probably can’t be fixed until they’re gone, but I think the record is the 55-day strike in late 1950?

    Re splitting network – Splitting the combined network into smaller sections works well; look at Frankston line reliability now (90%) vs. before the Cross-City group was established (65%). The key is to prevent spread of delays. The key is that anything that affects more than one operator – signallers, timetablers, track maintenance standards, WON and VRIOGS publications etc – should be controlled by the government.

    Agree something stinks re the free trade agreement thing. I can’t see anything good coming out of it, so no idea why a politician representing us would agree to it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s