The Public Transport Users Association today welcomed Committee for Ballarat’s new #59minuteballarat campaign, which calls for full duplication of the line to Ballarat, electrification of the line to Melton, and faster, more frequent and more reliable services.
PTUA Ballarat Branch Convener Ben Lever said the region needs a long-term bipartisan plan to deliver the infrastructure and services it needs.
“The Ballarat line has always been held back by the long single-track sections. Trains need to wait in crossing loops for trains coming the other way, which adds to journey time and limits how frequently trains can run. It also means that when one train is late getting to the crossing loop, other trains need to wait for it – meaning delays spread from one train to another.”
“We’ve seen some fantastic investment recently, with part of the line to be duplicated over the next two years – but there’s still a long way to go. With Ballarat’s population expected to grow to 160,000 by 2040, and the western suburbs of Melbourne already growing rapidly, we need the full duplication of the line to Ballarat, and electrification of the line to Melton, as soon as humanly possible.”
“The good news is, we know this is a sound investment for governments to make – from the Regional Fast Rail project to Regional Rail Link, when governments have invested in a better service, people have flocked to it. If governments continue to invest in better public transport, the public will use it”
The Committee for Ballarat proposal calls for an express train between Ballarat and Melbourne in under an hour, as well as more frequent and more reliable trains.
“The full duplication of the line is going to allow for some dramatic improvements to service on the Ballarat line – not just a faster journey once you’re on the train, but more trains, more often. Not only would running trains more frequently reduce overcrowding and give people more choice in when to travel, it would cut door-to-door journey time – less time waiting on the platform means more time at home with your family.”
The State government maintains that Melton can’t be added to the electrified Metro network until the Metro Tunnel opens in 2026 – even if this is the case, detailed planning needs to start now, so that the two projects can be built alongside each other and open on the same day.
“Adding Melton to the Metro network will not only provide Melbourne’s west with a much better service, it will allow Ballarat trains to run express from Melton to Sunshine, reducing crowding and resulting in faster journeys.”
The plan also calls for better connectivity to Ballarat’s regional neighbours, like Ararat and Maryborough.
“Ballarat isn’t just a commuter town for people who work in Melbourne – it’s also a significant destination in its own right. People come to Ballarat for education, healthcare, shopping and tourism – so we need a frequent, reliable public transport system that can get people here.”