LEADING advocate groups believe there is a genuine case to be made for the introduction of a commuter-based train line intersecting Ballarat and Geelong.
The concept was looked at in a recent Infrastructure Victoria report addressing at a 30-year strategy for the state’s infrastructure needs, but ultimately deemed to be only a “consideration”.
Despite this, the idea received overwhelming support from the Ballarat community, with hundreds believing it would be well used when providing feedback to The Courier’s Facebook post earlier this month.
Committee for Ballarat chair Janet Dore said it would provide commuters with an alternative option to commuting to Melbourne for work.
“This is about links between regional cities being as important as accessibility to Melbourne,” she said.
“It would take the focus away from the road (the heavily used Midland Highway)
“They keep saying it’s not economic and maybe the business case doesn’t stack up for it, but maybe there needs to be a good look into that.”
How much investment would be required to get the service up and running is unconfirmed.
Much of the required infrastructure is already existing, with a 2013 report by Public Transport Victoria titled ‘Rail revival study: Geelong-Ballarat-Bendigo’ labelled “gold plated” for its costly estimation, which was between $250 to $320 million for Ballarat to Geelong, but more than $900 million with the inclusion of Bendigo, Castlemaine and Maryborough services.
Despite this, Rail Revival Alliance president Noel Laidlaw estimated that a Ballarat to Geelong service could be implemented for as little as $100 million.
Public Transport Users Association Ballarat branch interim convener Ben Lever said a model similar to Ararat to Ballarat runs would be adequate.
“The comparison I like to draw is the Ararat to Ballarat,” he said.
“Three a day from the morning, middle (12pm) and evening and fill in the gaps with buses.
“Build it and they will come.”