FastTrack Ballarat: push to improve rail service

A ROBUST campaign to improve Ballarat’s often-maligned rail line will be launched today.

Committee for Ballarat is leading the charge for the train service to be upgraded immediately, before it becomes a detriment to the city.

The FastTrack Ballarat campaign will call for improved reliability and frequency, faster travel times and better mobile coverage.

With the backing of 14 of Ballarat’s leading organisations, it will seek answers and immediate action from the state and federal governments.

Committee for Ballarat chief executive officer John Kilgour said it was now time for the city to make a stand.

Among the list of demands will be duplication of the track, a minimum of three services per hour during peak times and reliable mobile and internet service for the entire journey.

“The time is now that the people of Ballarat need an improved service,” said Mr Kilgour.

“It’s no good waiting for the population to exceed what the service can handle.

“In the early 1900s you could do the Ballarat to Melbourne trip by steam rail in an hour — these days it takes an hour and a half.”

V/Line figures show that train use has more than doubled in the past five years, with more than three million trips made annually.

A number of peak-hour trains currently run at 100 per cent capacity.

Independent data collated by Ballarat ICT has also shown  that 76 per cent of current car travellers would consider commuting by train if there was reliable internet coverage.

Committee for Ballarat chairman Tony Chew said with the service already pushed to the limit, there were concerns people wouldR soon start turning away from train travel.

“There was a risk commuters would lose confidence in the service unless improvements were made and planning done for future growth,” he said.

The campaign will also push for a second platform at  Bacchus Marsh, a passing loop near Ballan, duplication of the Ballarat-Warrenheip section of the track and at least two services an hour during off-peak times.

The campaign will be launched at the Ballarat Railway Station from 7.30am to 8.45am this morning. Visit www.committeeforballarat.com.

patrick.nolan@thecourier.com.au

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