The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has welcomed the state government’s announcement of a study into faster rail services for Geelong.
A $50 million study will investigate the possibility of trains running at between 250 and 300km/h between Melbourne and Geelong.
PTUA Geelong Branch Convener and Regional Spokesperson, Paul Westcott, said faster trains would provide great benefits to the people of Geelong.
“It would be fantastic to see higher speeds on the Geelong line, which would mean shorter journey times for commuters, allowing them to spend more time with their families. It’s encouraging to see the government planning for the higher speed trains we will need in the future – first on the Geelong line, and then on other regional lines,” he said.
However, Mr Westcott noted that the overwhelming concern for Geelong line passengers right now is overcrowding at the Melbourne end of the line, and the unreliability of services.
“It’s vital to fix those problems now, as well as planning for the future,” Mr Westcott said. “Geelong trains should not be serving suburban passengers from Tarneit, Wyndham Vale and Deer Park.
“The line to Wyndham Vale must be electrified so Metro trains can do that job, and the two planned separate tracks must be built so Geelong trains don’t have to stop at suburban stations.”
The PTUA has also welcomed the state government’s announcement that the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority (MMRA) will be re-established as Rail Projects Victoria.
“Rather than having separate agencies running each new project, it is sensible to have a single agency responsible for all rail projects,” Mr Westcott said. “It will help retain talent and skills in rail projects, and provide a pipeline of works for the people involved.”
Mr Westcott noted that the new authority should be able to coordinate and combine related projects together. For example, the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority (MMRA) is planning to build a new station at Toolern on the Melton line, right next to Ferris Road, but the opportunity to grade separate Ferris Road at the same time is apparently not being taken.
“Based on what the government has said, Rail Projects Victoria will start out with the same remit as the current MMRA, but we hope that more projects will be added to it over time,” Mr Westcott said.