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Crucial interchange bypassed by Regional Rail Link

V/Line carriageThe Public Transport Users Association has expressed serious concerns over the revelation that no platforms will be provided at North Melbourne station for Geelong rail passengers travelling on the forthcoming Regional Rail Link.

Although extra platforms will be provided at both Footscray and Southern Cross stations as part of the $4.2bn project, the Department of Transport has told the PTUA that platforms at North Melbourne won’t be provided, apparently to keep costs down.

North Melbourne is currently a major interchange point for travellers on the Geelong line, providing connections to City Loop services, as well as the recently-introduced 401 shuttle bus from North Melbourne to the university and hospital precincts in Parkville. The 401 was established in part to assist Geelong line commuters.

“Given that $4.2 billion is to be spent on this scheme, it is completely unacceptable that such a vital and well-used interchange point will be by-passed,” PTUA Geelong Branch convenor Paul Westcott said.

“Doing that will inconvenience a large number of Geelong rail passengers every day.”

Geelong passengers wanting to transfer to the City Loop will be forced to change trains at Footscray, from where they will only be able to use Sydenham line trains to gain access to the Loop, because Werribee trains travelling though Footscray only run direct to Flinders Street.

“The Sydenham line is the most overcrowded in Melbourne, so forcing Geelong passengers squeeze onto these already packed trains in peak hour is a recipe for chaos,” Mr Westcott said. He also noted that suburban trains to Craigieburn, Upfield and Melbourne Showgrounds stop at North Melbourne, but do not run to Footscray.

“The revelation of this plan only adds to the impression that Geelong commuters will be short-changed by the Regional Rail Project. We have no real idea how the line is to be operated, and there’s certainly no likelihood that it will offer any time savings to Geelong travellers.

“Fortunately there’s still plenty of time for the short-sighted idea of by-passing North Melbourne to be ditched, as it must be,” Mr Westcott concluded.