Investigating the need for future train stations in Ballarat has been listed as a priority in Infrastructure Victoria’s draft 30-year plan.
A raft of recommendations have been made for Ballarat, with the city’s future population boost – expected to swell from 93,501 to 160,000 by 2040 – to warrant at least one more station in or around the city.
Much of the current growth occurring in western suburbs such as Lucas, Alfredton and Cardigan.
Rail commuters in Ballarat’s west are currently serviced by the overwhelmed Wendouree Station, which is set for an upgrade to address a current shortage of car parks.
Committee for Ballarat chair Janet Dore said a station for the Lucas area was an absolute future requirement for the city but doubted whether there would be enough commuters to warrant a station at Gordon.
While it has been mooted in the past, then-Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder had dashed any short-term chances of a Gordon station in 2011.
“I think it would be crazy (for Ballarat) to continue with the current density of subdivision at Lucas and not eventually have a station there,” Ms Dore said.
“Certainly in the longer term it should absolutely be there. I think we should also make sure our whole city is public transport connected (through adequate bus services).
“I don’t think the numbers are there (for Gordon).”
Ms Dore said the need for eventual express services between Ballarat and Melbourne would also take precedence over a station to the east of the city.
However, Public Transport Users Association Ballarat convener Ben Lever said there could be a future need for a station at Warrenheip, which has been a Moorabool Shire Council priority for several years.
“As Ballarat grows, there will also be a strong case for a station at Warrenheip, which could serve both that township and eastern Ballarat, with bus links to Eureka, Brown Hill and Mt Helen,” Mr Lever said.
“Again, it's important that we plan ahead and manage Ballarat's growth to ensure walkability and public transport use are baked in right from the start, rather than trying to retrofit them into a car-dependent neighborhood.”
Despite the recommendation, the IV report has not outlined any specific areas for a future station in Ballarat. It did, however, advise that there should be platforms added to South Geelong, Marshall and Waurn Ponds stations and duplicating tracks between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds.
Meanwhile, total duplication of the line between Ballarat and Melbourne was a concerning omission from the report.