Melbourne’s inner southeast has quite a few tram routes - the 64, 67, 3, 5 and 6. The problem is that, bar Route 6, they don’t really terminate somewhere very useful; most just end in a residential area, perhaps surrounded by a few shops.
There are historical reasons for this - in the past tram lines were each run by separate companies and competed for business with the railways, which were also run as private enterprises. It made sense not to link trams to trains as to do so could mean losing business to another form of public transport.
Surely today with a need for integrated transport services, there is a better way to extend the tram lines so that they go somewhere useful and allow connecting services to trains.
East Malvern tram terminus of Route 3 (2008) Melburnian (GNU Free Documentation License)
A Useful Destination
By far the most popular destination within close proximity to the 3, 5, 6 and 67 trams is Chadstone Shopping Centre. All end within a few kilometres of the shopping complex, which is itself relatively poorly served by public transport, save some bus routes.
While the Route 64 tram terminus is too far away to be extended to Chadstone, the distances from the 3, 5, 6 and 67 tram terminuses to Chadstone are not (less than 5km), subject to a suitable route being available to run them there.
Having alternate means of transport to get to Chadstone Shopping Centre would ease pressure on the centre’s carparks, as well as lessen traffic on the surrounding streets.
If planned correctly, the extended tram lines could also provide an integrated transport infrastructure to allow connections to and between train stations on different lines.
This is not a new idea:
- The Greens proposed a number of tram extensions (some to Chadstone Shopping Centre) in 2014, which Daniel Bowen wrote about in his excellent blog
- The Public Transport Users Association and Rail Futures Institute have, at various times, made proposals to extend the tram lines in the inner southeast
What is new is the 2018 proposal by the Victorian State Government to build a tram line from Caulfield station to Monash University and Rowville, via Chadstone Shopping Centre. Such a line would provide tracks along the Dandenong Road between Caulfield and Chadstone and beyond, as well as providing tram stops along the route.
Careful route planning to minimise costs, yet maximise effectiveness of the routes is paramount. The new routes not only need to link up with Chadstone Shopping Centre, but should also be designed to
- Link up with train stations where possible, to provide users with interconnecting transport services
- Avoid narrow or busy roads, where trams would be likely to disrupt other traffic, both during line construction and on an on-going basis
- Utilise the proposed Caulfield to Monash via Chadstone tram lines as much as possible
The map below lays out the proposed routes, with the proposed Caulfield-Monash tram route also shown for reference.
Route 6 Planning
The Route 6 tram currently terminates at the intersection of High Street and Malvern Roads in Glen Iris, near to Glen Iris train station. The proposed extension to this line would turn right onto Malvern Road and run along that road, past Darling and East Malvern train stations, turning right onto Belgrave Road, before joining up with the Caulfield-Monash tram route, running along Dandenong Road to Chadstone.
The total distance of this route extension would be 4.7km, however assuming that the Caulfield to Monash tram route will be built, only 3.1km of additional tracks would be required.
Route 5 Planning
The Route 5 tram terminates near the Route 6 terminus, at the intersection of Bourke and Wattletree Roads in Malvern. If the extension were to continue along Wattletree Road and join up with the Route 6 extension at the intersection of Wattletree and Malvern Roads, then this only represents an additional distance of 700m.
Route 3 Planning
The Route 3 tram terminates at the intersection of Waverley and Darling Roads in Malvern East. This tram route could be extended along Waverley Road to the intersection of Malvern Road, joining the Route 5 and 6 extensions near East Malvern train station. The total distance for this extension would be 800m.
Route 67 Planning
The Route 67 tram currently terminates at the intersection of Truganini and Koornang Roads in Carnegie. Although an extension could take the tram up Koornang Road and through the main shopping strip in Carnegie, this is a very busy area, so would likely cause disruptions during construction and delays for the trams on an on-going basis.
A different extension route was looked at, turning the 67 tram left (instead of its current right) at the intersection of Glenhuntly and Truganini Roads and heading up Truganini Road, joining into Toolambool Road and then Rosstown Road, before turning left onto Koonang Road at Carnegie train station.
The extension would then continue up Koornang Road, before turning right onto the Dandenong Road, connecting to the Caulfield-Monash tram route - a distance of 1.1km. Were the Caulfield-Monash tram route not to be built, running the Route 67 a further 800m (1.9km total) along the Dandenong Road would allow it to join the 6, 5 and 3 tram extensions.
Although no longer available, the Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) provided an independent report on costings for the Greens 2014 proposal to extend 17 tram routes. Daniel Bowen luckily laid these costs out in his blog which, though 5 years old, still give a general indication of costs.
The DTF suggested the following costs in their 2014 report:
|Tram lines per kilometre||$15m|
|Works for major intersections||$2.8m|
|Substations (for extensions over 5 kilometres||$5m|
Using the route planning above, together with these costs we can get a picture of what the overall budget for the extensions might need to be (subject to inflation) both with and without the Caulfield-Monash tram route being built. I’ve planned for platforms stops every 500m for simplicity sake.
|Route||Item with Caulfield-Monash line||Cost||Item without Caulfield Monash line||Cost|
|Route 6||3.1km tram line||$46.5m||4.7km tram line||$70.5m|
|Route 6||6 x platform stops||$10.2m||9 x platform stops||$15.3m|
|Route 6||6 x major intersections||$16.8m||8 x major intersections||$22.4m|
|Route 5||700m tram line||$10.5m||700m tram line||$10.5m|
|Route 5||2 x platform stops||$3.4m||2 x platform stops||$3.4m|
|Route 5||1 x major intersections||$2.8m||1 x major intersections||$2.8m|
|Route 3||800m tram line||$10.5m||800m tram line||$10.5m|
|Route 3||2 x platform stops||$3.4m||2 x platform stops||$3.4m|
|Route 3||1 x major intersections||$2.8m||1 x major intersections||$2.8m|
|Route 67||1.1km tram line||$16.5m||1.9km tram line||$28.5m|
|Route 67||3 x platform stops||$5.1m||5 x platform stops||$8.5m|
|Route 67||4 x major intersections||$11.2m||5 x major intersections||$14m|
|Shared||-||-||1 x substation||$5m|
|Shared||-||-||1 x terminus works||$5m|
|Total with Caulfield-Monash line||$139.7m||Total without Caulfield Monash line||$202.6m|
Other costs may need to be factored in such as provisioning additional, or larger capacity trams on the routes. Southland Station on the Frankston line, which serves Southland Shopping Centre was expected to become the fourth busiest station on the line, serving 4,400 passengers daily.
Given that Chadstone Shopping Centre is much larger than Southland, it could be expected that more patrons would use tram services to the Centre, which would likely require larger-capacity trams on the routes.
With $3m already invested by the Victorian Government for planning and designing the new Caulfield to Monash tram route, while there are still lots of questions to be considered, there is hope that this new line will be built in the current government term.
With that line in planning, it makes it easier for other proposals - such as the 3, 5, 6 and 67 extensions to Chadstone Shopping Centre - to also be considered for the south east to make a truly integrated transport network.