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Conference paper
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It is widely believed that Melbourne’s rail system suffers capacity constraints which prevent it providing significantly higher service levels or accommodating higher patronage. The most important bottlenecks are said to be the city loop and the Dandenong line. This paper examines the claimed capacity constraints on the Melbourne rail system in detail, utilising throughput standards derived from current best practice, but also from past performance and planning in Melbourne. It concludes that the claimed constraints are not substantiated. The paper then considers the political factors (including ‘professional politics’) behind the Melbourne rail ‘capacity crisis’, concluding that political, and not engineering, constraints are the dominant factor.

The State of Australian Cities (SOAC) national conferences have been held biennially since 2003 to support interdisciplinary policy-related urban research.

This paper was presented at SOAC 2 held in Brisbane from 30 November to 2 December 2005, hosted by the Urban Research Program at the South Bank campus, Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University.

The principal intention of the conference was to lead a dialogue between leading researchers on the state of Australian cities and where they might be headed. SOAC 2 was designed to lead to a better understanding of the research needs of Australian cities and to provide those in the public and private sectors with a better appreciation of the current state and capacities of researchers.

Conference papers published from SOAC 2 were subject to a peer review process prior to presentation at the conference, with further editing prior to publication.

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