A BACCHUS Marsh transport consultant is buoyed by the prospect of outlining Ballarat’s rail future in the Regional Public Transport Development Plan.
Jeff Moran, the managing director at SWTY Transport Consultanting, said Monday’s RPTD meeting was a solid start to discussions.
However, Mr Moran said the Ballarat line needs drastic change if it is to improve.
Mr Moran said an effort has to be made to introduce more passing loops on the line, given the current lack of options closer to Melbourne.
“This manoeuvre (passing loop) adds considerable complexity to the operation of the line and severely compromises capacity, efficiency, flexibility and reliability,” he said.
“We have passing loops at Rockbank, Melton, Parwan, Bacchus Marsh, Bankbox, Ballan and Bungaree.”
By his tally, Mr Moran said the number of services per week day on the Ballarat line have risen from 54 to 72 with the new timetables, leading to a more congested service.
“To get away with not having the rolling stock, they’re increasing the number of services,” he said.
“If there were bigger trains, you could have fewer of them.
”What concerns me, in the AM peak times between Sunshine and Spencer Street station, (there is) 15 services per peak hour and practical track capacity is between 16 and 17.
“It’s not a long term solution and it’s really quite a brittle solution.
“I was at one stage thinking that our biggest problem is the Sunshine to Spencer Street, but now I’m thinking our biggest problem is the single track sections.”
Central to the development of the strategy, Mr Moran believes talks need to consider the expansion of capacity, frequency and span hours of VLine services to and from Ballarat, opening new stations and re-opening closed stations, developing the north and south corridor between Maryborough and Geelong and the electrification of services between Melbourne and Melton, and potentially even Bacchus Marsh.
He also believes the expansion of VLine coach services and local bus services are critical to improved services.
He said that a service between Ballarat and Geelong could also be a beneficial left-field option, which could also benefit Maryborough users.
“If we’re trying to plan what we want for our public transport for the next 40 years, we need to step back and say what do we really need,” he said.
”It needs to be driven by something. We now have a real opportunity with proper consultation.”