BALLARAT public transport commuters say the changes to the V/Line service to Melbourne will affect hundreds of students and professionals who would usually leave the train at North Melbourne station.
Brown Hill resident Dan Stoll, who catches the 6.12am train to Southern Cross Station every weekday for work, said the changes would have a detrimental impact on commuters on the highly congested morning train.
Mr Stoll estimated that, on his morning train trip, more than 50 train users left the train at North Melbourne station, including professionals who work in Melbourne’s northern suburbs and Melbourne university students.
“It will definitely be a lot harder for them to get to where they need to be,” he said. “Behind Southern Cross, North Melbourne would be the second-most popular train station where people get off.
“Cutting out Sunshine Station would be a better option as that is the stop where the least amount of people get off the train.”
Mr Stoll said there was a need for a “better dedicated” V/Line train service from Ballarat to Melbourne which did not stop at as many stations along the way.
His calls were echoed by Maryborough public transport user Zoe Jordan, 20, who told The Courier she often left her house at 5.30am to get to the Ballarat train station and arrive in Melbourne by 9am.
“For me, it isn’t so bad because I get off Southern Cross, but people living further out of Ballarat that get off at North Melbourne station will be forced to leave home even earlier because its going to take them longer to get to their destination,” she said.
Public Transport Users Association regional spokesperson Paul Westcott said hundreds of commuters would be impacted by the changes taking effect on July 16.
Mr Westcott said Ballarat commuters who usually got off at North Melbourne station would face 25 minutes added to their journey.
He said many commuters including professionals who worked at hospitals and Melbourne University students who exited at North Melbourne would have to get off at Footscray and catch a train to North Melbourne and then board a 401 bus which stopped at Melbourne University and the Royal Women’s Hospital.
“North Melbourne station connects to five different train lines, including Upfield and Craigeburn,” he said.
“A part of the $4.8 billion allocated to the Regional Rail Link project should have been invested into ensuring that there was a simple transfer to North Melbourne for regional commuters who need it.”