Users ask the government how much slower the new rail link to Geelong will be

In a submission to a Victorian parliamentary inquiry, the Geelong branch of the PTUA has called on the State Government to clarify how much time the Regional Rail Link will add to the journey for Geelong travellers.

The Legislative Council Select Committee on Train Services is inquiring into the “failures in the provision of metropolitan and V/Line train services”, and the Branch’s submission raises concerns about the idea that, under the Regional Rail Link, Geelong services will run via Tarneit, to the west of Werribee.

The new line will add up to 15 kilometres to the total trip length from Geelong to Melbourne compared to the current direct route. This extra distance could increase travel time by an extra 10 minutes.

Public Transport Minister, Lynne Kosky, has admitted that journeys will be no faster, and in fact the deviation could add “seconds” to the trip time of Geelong travellers [1].

“Rail users are asking us how she can make that sort of judgement,” Geelong Branch convenor Paul Westcott said. “If the Department of Transport has done modelling on the question, why hasn’t it be publicly released?”

Because of the lack of detail about the Regional Rail Link, Mr Westcott said it isn’t clear that supposed time savings through the metropolitan area will offset the greater distance Geelong trains will travel, especially as they will have to stop to pick up Tarneit passengers.

“We’re not sure if the Regional Rail Line’s longer trip times stack up against the promise of more reliable services. A few years ago, under the Regional Fast Rail project, the government spent about $100 million on the Geelong line, which was supposed to reduce travel times, so we think it’s an important question,” Mr Westcott said.

The Geelong Branch’s submission to the Select Committee also mentions concerns about timetable planning and timely rail maintenance, and calls for the establishment of a Victorian country public transport authority with a clear responsibility for planning passenger services between cities throughout Victoria.

The submission is available from the PTUA Geelong’s web page (www.ptua.org.au/geelong).

[1] Geelong Advertiser 17/06/2009:
“… in a press conference selling the proposed route through Tarneit, Ms Kosky said there would be no time gains in the speed of services. She said “seconds” could be added to some existing train times.”