Ballarat’s civic and business leaders have united in an effort to make Ballarat a sub-hour train journey from the Melbourne CBD.
On Thursday morning Committee for Ballarat officially unveiled its 59minuteBallarat campaign, which encourages commuters to share their stories in order to highlight the importance of a faster, more efficient train service. Committee for Ballarat has set out a short term goal of achieving one 59-minute express service to and from Southern Cross Station by 2019.
Speaking at the Ballarat Station, Committee for Ballarat chairman Janet Dore said it was unacceptable that Ballarat did not have a sub-hour train service in 2017 given the 59-minute trip had been attained a decade ago.
The delivery of the Regional Fast Rail project in 2006 allowed trains to get to Melbourne in under an hour.
“We need (the 59-minute service) back, we need it both ways and we are going to need more into the future,” Ms Dore said. “We’ve only just started this campaign and we are serious about showing that we’re an accessible city.”
The push comes ahead of the 2018 state election next November, where two lower house seats will be without incumbents. In July Wendouree MP Sharon Knight announced she would not be recontesting in 2018, while Buninyong MP Geoff Howard said confirmed he would step aside earlier this month.
We need (the 59-minute service) back, we need it both ways and we are going to need more into the future.Janet Dore - Committee for Ballarat chairman
While the state government’s $518 million commitment to the line in the 2016//17 budget will provide a boost to capacity and reliability, it is not expected to improve the speed of the service which currently ranges from 65 to 95 minutes.
Ballarat City mayor Samantha McIntosh said securing a fast, reliable train would enhance the livability of the city and will encourage people to make the move from metropolitan areas to live and work in western Victoria.
“We are expecting Ballarat to have 140,000 people by 2040...that means it is so important for our connectivity to Melbourne to be fast and reliable so we’re really asking state and federal government to come forward and stand up strong and help us in Ballarat and our surrounding communities to be able to deliver something our people absolutely need.”