THE introduction of new train services for Ballarat will be welcome news for commuters.
The over-crowded carriages that most commuters have experienced will hopefully be somewhat eased by the changes which take into consideration the major Regional Rail Link project being completed.
However, all it takes is a quick look at the changes to the Geelong train line to understand what the problem is with Ballarat’s line in the long term.
While Ballarat passengers will receive one extra service during peak times, Geelong will obtain services departing every 10 minutes.
The bottom line is that Geelong’s train line can cater for those services. Ballarat’s can not.
No one in Ballarat would expect to receive the same level of services given the population difference.
However, unless major construction works are completed on our rail line, little will change.
Anyone who has taken the train to Melbourne during the morning rush over the past few years would have seen the huge growth in passengers taking advantage of the service.
What needs to happen is a serious discussion about the duplication of the rail line between Ballarat and Melbourne to work towards a long-term plan for the line. A project of this size would take years not only to construct, but plan as well, and that makes it even more important to begin the discussion now.
If the patronage continues to grow at its current rate, we will again get to the same point, with overcrowded carriages and no way of increasing the number of services without drastically increasing delays.
This is a problem we cannot allow to happen.
If the city is to campaign and plan now, Ballarat will set itself up for a rail service to suit the future needs of a growing city only a short distance from Melbourne.
While the project might seem big, that doesn’t mean it is unobtainable, especially with a federal election just around the corner.