V/Line fantasy map by Adam Mattinson – click to enlarge

Tell ‘im he’s dreamin’, but map maker Adam Mattinson has earned a reputation for producing brilliant fantasy transport maps like these ones published previously by The Urbanist – see Melbourne fantasy rail map 2047, Fantasy tram map Melbourne 2048, Melbourne ‘fantasy rail map 2070’, The Melbourne subway map (a rail fantasy), and A fantasy cycling map for inner Melbourne.

Now he’s just finished this er, fantastic, map of what V/Line rail services in country Victoria could look like in a parallel universe. Adam explains:

As part of the fantasy metro train and tram maps, I always wanted to continue on with a V/Line fantasy map.

Fortunately, a great series of maps exist on the VR Maps website which shows a geographically accurate representation of the Victorian rail network throughout the decades.  For Victoria, the rail infrastructure peaked around the 1930’s-1940’s, so I used that as a base. Obviously, when private transport grew in popularity rail infrastructure became neglected, this map imagines a version of Victoria where the rail infrastructure was prioritised over road. A lot of those lines closed to passenger services in the 60’s-80’s, so these were included in this map, and I added in all the towns with a population of over 200 or so, similar to the population of Talbot (which was added back into the network a few years back).

The whole idea of a Victoria wide train network appeals to me on a personal level, as I grew up in the sticks, but work in the city, and someday would love to be able to commute from the country for work.  So looking at this map definitely gets the imagination going as to how many more living options would be available to me if the network were bigger.

Given all the debate on High Speed Rail, I’ve incorporated that into the map as well, taking inspiration from the Spanish Rail Network, where major cities are connected by trains that travel up to 350km/h.  If something similar was used here, this would mean a trip from Melbourne to Bendigo would be around 1 hour; how would that impact the state’s population and would we see de-centralisation? This also applies to those towns with 300 or so people, the network is designed so that smaller rail lines feed into the larger trunk lines into major regional centres; how would this impact a population corridor from say Ballarat-Skipton, or the towns along the McIvor Highway?

Filling in the gaps for cities and towns not connected to a rail service such as Lakes Entrance, and Mt Beauty, I’ve also included some select coach services and numbered them in a way similar to the numbering system for the train services.  I’ve also included some coach services to some of the more popular tourist destinations.

Another aspect mentioned on this map is train travel as tourism. On a trip down to Hakone in Japan, I noticed a ‘Romance Car’, a train service running direct services to tourist towns, and offering a first class experience with food and drink included. In this fantasy world, could that work here? A long weekend trip to Daylesford or Maldon, direct trains to the Grampians, Walhalla or Bright.  Special event trains to La Dolce Vita in Whitfield.

You can see more of his work at Adam Mattinson Maps. Coincidentally, Michael Buxton and Bill Russell have an article in today’s issue of The Conversation, This is how regional rail can help ease our big cities’ commuter crush.