The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has refreshed calls for an increase of services running on the Geelong rail line, calling for half-hourly services all day to Victoria’s largest regional city to better meet the needs of thousands of commuters and ease congestion on roads.
PTUA President Daniel Bowen said he was surprised that this had not already occurred, given the recent surge in demand for rail travel. “Peak services running at capacity and platform lengthening at certain stations for longer trains proves a clear demand for more rail services between Melbourne and Geelong. To ensure more people are given an alternative to driving, and encourage travel outside peak hours, the government should provide trains at least every half-hour on the line until 9pm, seven-days-a-week”, he said.
Services on the Geelong line presently run hourly off-peak and on weekends, which fails to provide the flexibility and frequency required for the travelling public. Meanwhile there is growing congestion on our road network and parking problems in the Melbourne and Geelong CBDs.
“Outside peak hours, you can easily drive from Geelong to Melbourne in the time that it takes to wait for a train”, Mr Bowen said. “We in Victoria lag behind other Australian states when it comes to providing fast, frequent services to our closest and largest regional cities. Half-hourly train services operating seven days a week between Sydney and Gosford, and between Brisbane and the Gold Coast prove it can be done, and we wouldn’t even need to purchase any more trains to run these extra services,” said Mr. Bowen.
Growing traffic problems in the Melbourne and Geelong CBD areas and strain on the West Gate Bridge is primarily caused by single-occupant cars, due to the lack of a viable alternative to driving. At the same time, regional rail travel has recently seen a spike in demand due to improved services, new trains and lower fares.
“The train is faster, easier to use and the most comfortable way to travel between Geelong and Melbourne. These extra trains could be in operation within months with a commitment from the State Government and provide the flexibility of regular services outside of peak times. We need to stop looking at expensive road widening projects and make better use of our existing rail infrastructure,” concluded Mr. Bowen.