An express train service between Ballarat and Melbourne has been ruled out for V/Line’s first 2017 timetable.
Next year’s timetable is yet to be revealed, but it’s understood that an express service, which commuters have been calling for since the catastrophic early stages of the Regional Rail Link, is not part of immediate future considerations.
The service would mean travel times between Ballarat and Melbourne would be reduced to around an hour, which would be a massive boost for commuters who have suffered through constantly overcrowded and delayed services since last June.
Local commuter group, Ballarat Commuters for an Improved Rail Service, has been vocal about the need for a train from Ballarat straight to Melbourne, as has the Committee for Ballarat.
However, Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said four more daily services would be added to the Ballarat timetable next year.
“Four new services will be introduced next year, and more will be added in the coming years as these huge improvements are delivered,” she said.
Services closest resembling express trains under the current timetable stop still at Ballan, Bacchus Marsh, Sunshine and Footscray stations.
It’s still unclear if Ballarat trains to Melbourne will be required to stop at the Caroline Springs Station, which will be ready for use early in the year.
The first V/Line timetable will likely be temporary, until Caroline Springs scheduling is finalised.
Western Victoria MP Joshua Morris said at the very least, an express train should be considered for the line.
“The Andrews government should consider all options available to them to improve the travel time and service provided to Ballarat train travelers,” he said.
“With the Caroline Springs Station being added to the line sometime next year, travel times are set to become even longer.”
Public Transport Users Association Ballarat branch convener Ben Lever said both express and stopping trains will be required along the line in the future
“But it's important to remember that stopping in crossing loops adds to journey times at least as much as stopping at stations does, and we don't want the journey times of the non-express trains to blow out,” he said.
“The sections of single track make it really hard to balance these two – it's yet another reason why we will need the line fully duplicated before long."
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