Ballarat commuters travelling to and from Melbourne this long weekend face delays of up to 45 minutes as busses replace trains, the start of what could be up to two years of disruptions on the rail line.
The closures are due to works being carried out to remove trees and install barriers between Caroline Springs and Melton on the reconfigured line and are part of the $557 million Ballarat Line Upgrade.
The project includes the duplication of 18km of track, new and upgraded stations, new stabling facilities and new passing loops.
It is expected there will be series of of disruptions to the line until the completion date, scheduled in late 2019.
The line will be closed from tomorrow morning, reopening Tuesday.
It means delays for visitors travelling to the Begonia festival from Melbourne and for those locals wishing to head to the city for Moomba or the series of Ed Sheeran concerts at Etihad Stadium.
A V/Line spokesperson said there will be a mix of express and stopping-all-station coaches to compensate the lack of train services.
“These improvement works on the Ballarat line are important for the ongoing upkeep of the line to ensure we continue offering a safe and reliable journey for passengers,” the spokesperson said. “While there is never a good time to complete works, they have been scheduled to minimise the disruption to passengers.”
Organisers of Ballarat’s Begonia Festival have been made aware of the changes and hope there won’t be too many delays.
City of Ballarat Development and Planning Director Angelique Lush said; “Any change of this nature can potentially be disruptive, but we don’t believe it will have any impact to the festival.”
Services on Monday’s Labour Day holiday will run to a Saturday timetable.
However there is some good news for commuters with V/Line promising two extra train services from Ballarat during White Night on Saturday March 17.