As the state election approaches, the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has called for upgrades to V/Line short distance services to run at least every 30 minutes, seven days-a-week.
PTUA regional spokesman Paul Westcott said that with strong patronage growth, V/Line train services are increasingly overcrowded not just in peak times, but also at off-peak times, including weekends, and that waiting times are excessive.
“You will wait an hour between trains from Geelong to Melbourne, for example. You could drive the distance in that time.
“And our members report passengers forced to stand for long distances on some off-peak V/Line trains.”
Under the PTUA plan, V/Line trains would run at least every half-hour to all stations within the commuter belt, from 7am to 9pm every day, with less frequent services where current infrastructure did not make this possible. In the longer term, the line from Sunshine to Melton should be duplicated and electrified, to provide suburban services to growing western suburbs including Deer Park, Caroline Springs and Melton.
Mr Westcott said that upgrades were possible now by more effectively using V/Line’s existing fleet.
“More frequent services will help spread the peak load, reduce overcrowding, and encourage more off-peak patronage. We call on the politicians to get on board and pledge to fund more frequent V/Line train services”, said Mr Westcott.
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 V/Line’s short distance (commuter belt) services are those from Melbourne to Geelong (and Marshall), Ballarat (and Wendouree), Bendigo (and Eaglehawk), Seymour and Traralgon.
 Caroline Springs station has been funded under the Victorian Transport Plan, with construction commencing this year, and the station expected to open in 2012.