North Melbourne stop to cease under Regional Rail Link changes

Some Ballarat commuters could be lumped with two more journeys a day from July 16 when V/Line will drop the North Melbourne stop. 

As part of the Regional Rail Link project, new tracks between Sunshine and Southern Cross will separate V/Line and Metro trains to reduce bottlenecks outside the city loop.

The new tracks will redirect regional traffic from outside North Melbourne, meaning commuters will have to get off at Footscray or Southern Cross to connect with the city loop. 

Figures provided to The Courier by V/Line show 16 per cent of people using the Ballarat line get on and off at North Melbourne each day. 

About 5000 people from the Ballarat region make the daily commute to and from Melbourne. Commuters catching the 401 bus from North Melbourne station to northern parts of the city will experience the greatest delays, having to catch an extra train from Footscray to North Melbourne station. 

Alternatively, travellers could catch the 402 bus, which connects Parkville to Footscray, from Footscray station. 

Public Transport Victoria spokesperson Andrea Duckworth said the 402 ran every 10 to 15 minutes on weekdays and experienced heavy traffic during peak travel times.

The 401 service from North Melbourne runs every three minutes.

Regional Rail Link Australia spokesperson Bob Neilson said he could understand why people would be concerned with the extra journey. 

“I’m not going to say there’s no downside,” he said. “With any travel change you need to get used to it, but the benefit is we will eradicate delays.” 

Mr Neilson said the changes would not reduce travel time significantly in a timetable sense, but delays caused by V/Line trains stuck behind Metro trains would not occur. 

Commuters from Geelong had their North Melbourne service cancelled last December and that went smoothly, he said.

V/Line spokesperson Clare Steele said the company had to reach punctuality targets of 92 per cent every month. 

She said V/Linehad not been meeting its targets lately, but would be more reliable if it got rid of congestion.

Coaches will replace trains between Ballarat and Melbourne from June 28 to July 15 as signalling works are completed before the new route is introduced.

william.vallely@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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