PASSENGERS on Ballarat’s rail line will soon spend 90 minutes longer on the train during peak times each week than they did two years ago.
Under new V/Line timetables to come into effect in November, the busiest trains on the line will take longer to reach their destination than they have for years.
Committee for Ballarat, Ballarat West MP Sharon Knight and passengers have all hit out at the changes, labelling it a major step in the wrong direction. The rescheduling means the current 7.41am service, which takes 69 minutes, will soon depart at 7.36am and take 73 minutes. In October 2010, it took just 64 minutes.
The busy 5.44pm return service will also take six minutes longer than it currently does and nine minutes longer than it did two years ago.
Committee for Ballarat last month launched its FastTrack Ballarat campaign, which called for improved train times and better service for passengers while on board the trains. FastTrack Ballarat task force chair Noel Coxall said there was a real concern about trains taking longer to travel between Melbourne and Ballarat and that it flew in the face of the campaign.
“If we are going in the opposite direction it is a major concern to us and our city,” he said.
“We’re surprised that the peak services are actually slowing down.”
Passenger James Raynes uses both the peak services daily, Having moved to Ballarat from Melbourne three years ago. Mr Raynes said it was “infuriating” that train times continued to increase.
Tickets prices are also set to increase by 8.6 per cent in the new year. “It’s quite literally getting worse, especially when fares are going to increase again next year,” he said.
Ballarat West MP Sharon Knight called on the government to reverse the trend of slowing trains.
“As Ballarat continues to grow, quick convenient commuter transport to Melbourne becomes more important,” she said.
V/Line spokesman James Kelly said the Ballarat line was one of the least affected cities by the new timetable and that there were some services that were actually slightly faster.
He also said the addition of a 7.31am train from Bacchus Marsh and a 3.40pm train from Melbourne to Melton would help ease congestion on the lines.
“Most of the changes are fairly minor,” he said.
A spokesperson for Transport Terry Mulder said the slower service was due to an increase in the amount of trains and services on the tracks.
He said the Regional Rail Link, due for completion in 2016, would see train times vastly increased.
The new changes will become effective as of November 18.