Melbourne's Advanced Rail Transportation: Innovative Systems and Their Future Perspective

Melbourne's Advanced Rail Transportation: Innovative Systems and Their Future Perspective

Koorosh Gharehbaghi (RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia), Ken Farnes (RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia) and Matt Myers (Heriot-Watt University, Dubai, UAE)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/IJoSE.2020070102
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Melbourne's commuter rail transportation is ageing and outdated. As Melbourne's population is ever-increasing, its rail transportation infrastructure planning also needs to be developed, based on long-term technological advancements. Subsequently, Melbourne's rail network and its systems need to be continuously scrutinized. This study thus reviews Melbourne's advanced rail transportation systems, and determines its future perspectives. This research initially found that, for Melbourne, one of the important aspects of long-term technological innovation is the inclusion of the three specific automation measures of; moderate intrusion control systems; revamp signaling technologies; and new rail lines and systems. Further examination recommended that advanced rail transportation systems including enhanced communications systems, be carefully integrated. Such outcomes will in turn boost Melbourne's rail performance through, a) increase safety and passenger satisfaction; b) enhance system reliability; c) intensify train frequency and capacity; d) improve operational flexibility; and e) reduce the overall operating costs. It is expected that these findings will ultimately assist the relevant rail transportation planners, to make optimal decisions when deciding on the selection of the most advanced rail transportation strategies.
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1. Introduction

As cities continue to urbanize and motorize the governments are considering ways to improve the urban public transport network. Car dependency, road congestion and a reduction in air quality are identified in the State of Australian Cities 2010 report which points to the need for an increased investment in urban public transport infrastructure (MCU, 2010). With population growth, increased road traffic injury rates, and difficulties in moving around the city are anticipated. These issues, contribute to pressure on the governments to find solutions for sustainable urban mobility and the need to upgrade essential infrastructure. Gharehbaghi & Raso (2012) stated, “rapid urbanization in Melbourne is straining the public sector’s ability to provide essential infrastructure services.” Public transport only consists of 9 percent of motorized trips within the Melbourne metropolitan area. The Victorian government transport planning document targets20 per cent of motorized trips being made on public transport by 2020. To achieve this target the public transport system in and around metropolitan Melbourne must be expanded, resourced and appropriately promoted (Victoria, 2002).The importance of investing in infrastructure such as rail transportation is of paramount importance for thriving cities. In addition, Sourav, Chinmay, and Sumit (2018) reaffirmed that better system solutions can lead to smarter solutions. Furthermore, Sanjukta, Sourav, and Chinmay (2019) highlighted that smarter transportation systems could possibly lead to less traffic congestions.

For rail transportation systems, smarter solutions would imply consideration toward the utilization of advanced systems (Asoka & Bunyasi, 2013; Gharehbaghi & Rahmani, 2018). Melbourne’s current commuter rail network is aged and out-dated. Although there is some reconciliation towards the improvement of rail assets, the Melbourne Metro Rail in particular, the cities' overall transportation infrastructure requires improvement. Subsequently, in order to gain clarity on the key transportation infrastructure upgrades to effectively cater for Melbourne’s population to expand, exploration of its essential system progressions is essential.

1.1 Aims of the Research

Melbourne is currently undergoing a major rail network upgrade to rejuvenate its old rail system. The existing rail transport models from London and Los Angeles were studied to form the basis of the upgrade. However, it was determined that due to its size and geographical differentiation, Melbourne required a combination of different strategies. Accordingly, the major contributions of this research include refining Melbourne's rail transport system. This is achieved through first, reviewing the Melbourne's advanced rail transportation systems and determining possible future perspectives. This article then investigates Melbourne’s rail performance through, a) the preferred choice for new lines and systems, e.g. conversion of existing lines, b) investigates the high-capacity transport solutions, e.g. increase train capacity, c) investigates intrusion control systems, e.g. loopholes of driverless systems, and d) explores improved signaling technology that are capable of preventing accidents, e.g. communications based train control (CBTC).

The fore mentioned areas need to be integrated for both the old and new rail systems, thereby creating one innovative scheme. This proposition may not only assist in the planning and management of Melbourne's rail transportation infrastructure, but might also offer similar recommendations to cities that have transportation networks comparable to Melbourne.

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