Pakenham railway line
|Service type||Commuter rail|
|Locale||Melbourne, Victoria, Australia|
|Current operator(s)||Metro Trains|
|Stops||27 (excluding City Loop stations)|
|Distance travelled||56.9 km (35.4 mi)|
|Average journey time||1 hour 9 minutes|
|Line(s) used||City Loop|
|Rolling stock||Comeng, Siemens, High Capacity Metro Trains (from mid-2020)|
|Track gauge||1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)|
|Electrification||1500 V DC overhead|
The Pakenham line in Melbourne, Australia is a commuter rail passenger train service operating between Flinders Street in the Melbourne CBD and Pakenham in Melbourne's southeast. The service operates entirely on the Orbost main line and the City Loop. The service is part of the Public Transport Victoria metropolitan rail network and is operated by Metro Trains Melbourne.
The Pakenham line traverses mainly flat country with few curves and fairly minimal earthworks for most of the line. However between South Yarra and Malvern the line has been lowered into a cutting to eliminate level crossings, and between Malvern and Caulfield it has been raised on an embankment for the same reason. After Caulfield, the line formerly had numerous level crossings, however all have now been abolished between Caulfied and Dandenong as part of an elevated rail project, as well as some older bridges over and under roads. The elevated rail project, proclaimed "Skyrail", saw the construction of three sections of elevated rail to remove a total of nine crossings on the line, as part of the Level Crossing Removal Project which commenced in 2015. These removals have improved road traffic congestion in the area, especially in peak traffic times, and will enable an increase in train numbers. The line encounters some gentle hills between Narre Warren and Beaconsfield which require some more extensive earthworks to negotiate.
Most of the line goes through built-up suburbs and some industrial areas, but after Dandenong, it gets into more open countryside, passing by open fields and farms, particularly after Beaconsfield. This outer portion of the line is one of Melbourne's main growth corridors, which is rapidly replacing farmland with houses and adding many new passengers to the line each year.
The Pakenham line branches from the Alamein, Belgrave, Glen Waverley and Lilydale lines at Richmond and shares four tracks with the Frankston line to Caulfield, running next to the Sandringham line as far as South Yarra.
From Caulfield the rest of the line is double track, with three platforms at Dandenong and Westall. However, there are plans to add a third track on some sections between Caulfield and Dandenong as part of the Dandenong railway line triplication project. Automatic block signalling is provided throughout.
Intermediate terminating facilities are provided at Caulfield, Oakleigh, Westall, Springvale, Dandenong, Narre Warren and Berwick. Stabling sidings for suburban trains are provided at Caulfield, Westall, Dandenong, and Pakenham, although those at Caulfield are not normally used. Oakleigh previously had two sidings, but these were generally disused from around 1995 and finally abolished at the end of May 2018. Westall is also the location of a suburban train maintenance workshop.
Twelve level crossings were removed or are currently being removed by the Level Crossing Removal Authority. In conjunction with upgraded signalling, it is expected that more trains will be able to run during peak periods. As part of these works, several stations have been rebuilt.
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The Pakenham line began as part of the main line to Gippsland, but at the time the route through the suburbs has not been determined, so the first portion to open was the section between Oakleigh and Bunyip (Gippsland) in October 1877. Oakleigh was connected to the city at South Yarra in April 1879.
The section from South Yarra to Hawksburn was duplicated from opening, and duplication was extended to Caulfield in 1881, Oakleigh in 1883, and Dandenong in 1891.
In 1915 the line from South Yarra to Caulfield was quadrupled, and it was possibly at the same time that this section of the line was lowered into a cutting to eliminate numerous level crossings. Power signalling was provided between Richmond and Hawksburn at the same time, then on to Caulfield in 1921.
In 1954 the line beyond Dandenong was electrified mainly because of the expected briquette traffic from the brown coal mines in the Latrobe Valley, and over the next two years most of the line between Dandenong and Pakenham was duplicated and provided with power signalling, although Narre Warren to Berwick was not done until 1962.
Oakleigh to Dandenong was converted to power signalling in stages from 1970 to 1972.
In 1975, suburban services were extended beyond Dandenong to Pakenham, which until then had only been served by the passenger trains connecting Gippsland to Melbourne.
On 1 March 2007, with the abolition of Zone 3, Pakenham was re-zoned to Zone 2 in the Melbourne Metropolitan rail system. This brought the cost of train fares down, improving accessibility to the public.
A new station at Cardinia Road opened in 2012.
In 2017, the Victorian government began work on the Metro Tunnel project, which will connect the southeastern Pakenham and Cranbourne lines to the western Sunbury line, forming the so called 'Dandenong-Sunshine' line. 
Pakenham line services run express between South Yarra and Caulfield between 6 am and 11 pm on weekdays and between 10 am and 7 pm on weekends, and stops all stations at all other times. During the weekday peaks, some services will also not stop at both Westall and Yarraman in addition to running express between South Yarra and Caulfield, and some services will originate and terminate at Westall or Dandenong, running express between South Yarra and Caulfield. During the morning peak, these short services may also instead run express between Richmond and Caulfield outbound. On weekends between 5:45 pm and 7:45 pm, every second citybound service also operates as a shuttle between Pakenham and Dandenong, connecting with a Cranbourne line train.
Weekday morning and weekend services run anticlockwise through the City Loop, while weekday afternoon services run clockwise. Weekend early morning services run direct to and from Flinders Street.
In 2025, Pakenham railway line will cease to stop at South Yarra, Richmond, Flinders Street, Southern Cross, Flagstaff, Melbourne Central and Parliament Stations as the Metro Tunnel Project opens.
Standard timetabled journey direct
from Flinders Street
There are proposals to triplicate the section of tracks between Caulfield and Dandenong, to add more services to the busy Dandenong corridor.
There were calls to remove level crossings by the Victorian Labor Government between Caulfield and Dandenong by putting the railway up on a series of extended bridge structures, which has colloquially been termed "Skyrail". The method was strongly opposed by the Opposition and a number of nearby residents, but the works were completed in 2018 and parkland below the line is now available for recreational use. The skyrail project ended up being quite popular with locals.
- Removing level crossings Public Transport Victoria
- "Plan for new Dandenong train line off the rails" by Jason Dowling, The Age, 5 August 2008.
- "Anger at Caulfield end of line", by Paul Riordan, Caulfield Glen Eira Leader, 5 August 2008
- Dandenong Rail Corridor Project, Department of Transport website Archived 21 September 2007 at Archive.today
- Major Train Lines to Receive More Services Following Upgrades
- Growing Our Rail Network 2018-2025 Public Transport Victoria
- Neill, Casey (16 October 2015). "Push to re-open GM station". Dandenong Star Journal. Archived from the original on 4 June 2019. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
- Townsend, Melissa (20 April 2015). "No plans for run down General Motors train station at Dandenong South". Dandenong Leader. Herald Sun. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
- New sky rail station opens - and residents are happy about it The Age 16 April 2018