Hurstbridge railway line
|Hurstbridge railway line, Melbourne|
|Length||38 km (23.6 mi)|
|Tracks||Double track to Heidelberg, single track to Rosanna, double track to Greensborough, single track with passing loops beyond.|
|Service pattern||Offpeak: Stops all stations, or Express Jolimont – Clifton Hill. Peak: Express Jolimont – Clifton Hill – Ivanhoe – Heidelberg|
|Rolling stock||Hitachi, Comeng, X'Trapolis|
|Connections||South Morang line|
|Former connections||Inner Circle and Mont Park lines|
|Railways in Melbourne|
The Hurstbridge railway line is a suburban railway in Melbourne, Australia. It shares trackage with the South Morang railway line until Clifton Hill, then heads in a northeast direction through the City of Yarra, City of Darebin, City of Banyule, and the Shire of Nillumbik. Some of the suburbs served by the line include East Melbourne, Collingwood, Fairfield, Heidelberg, Greensborough, Eltham, and Hurstbridge. It has 23 stations in Public Transport Victoria ticketing Zones 1 and 2.
The Hurstbridge line traverses the rolling hills of Melbourne's north-eastern suburbs, at times cutting across hills and valleys, resulting in a somewhat windy and hilly line. It includes the only three tunnels on the suburban electrified system other than the underground city loop, although none of the three tunnels are particularly long or deep.
The first section from Flinders Street station to Victoria Park was actually built later than the rest of the line, which was originally connected to the rest of the suburban system via the now-closed "Inner Circle" line. There is evidence that the line was originally intended to be connected via this route, but geography and existing suburbs made it a problematic situation. The section uses two tunnels to cut under a low ridge just east of Melbourne, and most of the rest is built on an embankment that carries the line above numerous main roads and suburban side streets.
After Clifton Hill the line roughly parallels the north bank of the Yarra River, cutting across a number of watercourses flowing into the Yarra, and the ridges between them. At Heidelberg is the third tunnel. The line then encounters steeper grades until Eltham, after which it follows the valley of Diamond Creek, with easier grades but a windier route, with some curves having speed limits as low as 40 km/h (25 mph). This line boasts four of the largest bridges on the suburban network—twin bridges over the Merri Creek between Clifton Hill and Westgarth, another on the up side of Darebin, crossing Darebin Creek, and the wooden trestle across the Diamond Creek just on the up side of Eltham. At 195 m in length, this bridge is allegedly the longest wooden trestle bridge with a curve still in use on a revenue railway in the southern hemisphere, and is the only wooden bridge still in use on a revenue railway in Melbourne.
Apart from the first section of the line, it has numerous level crossings, plus a number of crossings between Diamond Creek and Hurstbridge with private driveways (and two with little-used public roads) that feature only Passive Protection (no operating lights or bells). The line also crosses a number of roads using bridges. The area traversed by the line is mostly built-up suburbs in the inner area, thinning out after Greensborough, and much of the outer end of the line is surrounded by patches of bush and paddocks.
The Hurstbridge line is both notable and notorious for having several single-track sections. The unusually large number of single track sections is due to constraints imposed by the underlying infrastructure, geography and lack of government investment. These unduplicated sections give the Hurstbridge line several bottlenecks at which trains must sometimes wait for the tracks to clear before proceeding. The single-track sections are as follows:
- Between Heidelberg and Rosanna is a 1.2km single-track section including a railway bridge over Burgundy Street, followed by a short single-track tunnel.
- The 15-kilometre (9.3 mi) section of track between Greensborough and Hurstbridge. Eltham and Diamond Creek railway stations each have two platforms, providing points at which trains can pass. This section of unduplicated track includes a timber trestle bridge near Eltham Station that has heritage protection. The bridge has a 40 km/h (25 mph) speed limit. Most of this section has had earthworks done to allow space for a second track (circa 1970s), including the provision of abutments for adjacent bridges. The only places where space has not been provided are a cutting on the down side of Montmorency (though the section under the road bridge that crosses this cutting has been widened), the wooden trestle at Eltham, and a short cutting on the down side of Wattleglen.
These single track sections restrict the number of trains that can be timetabled to run on the line and also regularly delay trains by up to 10 minutes waiting for the single tracks to clear.
Up until early 2013, the Hurstbridge line was the only electrified railway in Melbourne to still use token safeworking systems. Greensborough to Eltham was controlled by the "Miniature electric staff" system and Eltham to Hurstbridge by the "Staff and Ticket" system. The latter section could be divided into two sections at Diamond Creek, allowing trains to cross at that station. Greensborough, Eltham, and Hurstbridge still retained some semaphore signals. In the first few months of 2013, Automatic Track Control was introduced on the line, replacing the 'Staff' systems and Semaphore signals with electronic signals controlled remotely from Epping. The Greensborough-Eltham and Eltham-Diamond Creek sections were replaced on 31st of January 2013, with the final Diamond Creek-Hurstbridge section being replaced on 22nd of March 2013.
Intermediate terminating facilities are provided at Victoria Park (not normally used except for trains using the stabling siding), Heidelberg (only normally used by a small handful of peak services), Macleod, and Greensborough. Also, in theory, trains could terminate anywhere on the sections controlled by Electric Staff or Staff and Ticket, but in practice the only place trains on these sections terminate short of the terminus is Eltham. During disruptions trains have been known to terminate at Diamond Creek. Stabling facilities are provided at Victoria Park (room for two six-car trains), Macleod (room for three six-car trains), Eltham (room for three six car trains), and Hurstbridge (room for five six-car trains). The stabling siding at Victoria Park is only used during the day between peaks, as it does not have lighting for security at night.
Macleod station is the only station on the Hurstbridge line with more than two platforms. Macleod station has a third platform provided for in the 1970s used during peak periods to provide a place at which trains can enter the system or terminate.
Line speeds are:
- Flinders Street–Clifton Hill: 55 km/h (34 mph)
- Clifton Hill–Heidelberg: 80 km/h (50 mph)
- Heidelberg–Eltham: 75 km/h (47 mph)
- Eltham–Hurstbridge: 65 km/h (40 mph)
The first section of the Hurstbridge line to open was between Victoria Park (then named Collingwood) and Heidelberg, in May 1888, although there is some evidence that the contractors building the line operated services prior to that. At this time, the line was connected to other lines via a line from Royal Park to Clifton Hill, most of which comprised what was later known as the Inner Circle line. This connection was opened at the same time.
A more direct connection, between Princes Bridge and Victoria Park (as Collingwood was renamed at the same time) was opened in October 1901. In June the following year the line was extended to Eltham, and ten years later (June 1912) to Hurst's Bridge (now Hurstbridge). In 1912 the short Mont Park branch was built branching from Macleod station to serve the Mont Park Asylum.
In April 1921 automatic signalling was implemented between Princes Bridge and Clifton Hill.
A few months later, the line (from Princes Bridge) was electrified to Heidelberg, followed by electrification to Eltham in April 1923 and Hurstbridge in August 1926.
Duplication continued between Heidelberg and Macleod in December 1958, except for a short section after Heidelberg where the line crosses a bridge then goes through a tunnel. That section also remains single to this day.
On two consecutive days in September 1964 automatic signalling was provided between Westgarth and Fairfield, and Fairfield and Alphington.
The short section between Clifton Hill and Westgarth crossing the moderately-deep valley of the Merri Creek was duplicated in January 2009. The rarely used centre running line at Clifton Hill was also removed at this time.
As a part of the upgrades undertaken by the operator Metro Trains Melbourne, the Burgundy Street bridge near Heidelberg Railway Station was replaced in June 2010, costing over $1,000,000.
Several stations on the Hurstbridge Line formerly had Goods Yards or sidings. Those at Fairfield, Alphington, Ivanhoe, Heidelberg and Greensborough have been removed completely (although a single track remained at Heidelberg for many years and was used to stable defective trains). The former goods yards at Eltham and Hurstbridge are now used as stabling sidings, having received some modification to the track layout. The siding at Diamond Creek was originally used for goods purposes (according to the 1926 Curves and Grades book) and was retained for use as a crossing loop. A platform was not built on the loop until the mid-late 1990s, requiring trains to "set back" after using the platform in order to cross.
The name of Wattleglen station has often been debated, as the town is in fact named Wattle Glen. Platform signs also read "Wattle Glen," however the station appears on some official railway documents, as well as being gazetted on the State Government VicNames register, as Wattleglen.
Bold stations are termini, where some train services terminate; italic stations are staffed; and stations with an asterisk (*) are staffed during morning peak periods.
|Hurstbridge railway line|