This is the year many train passengers keenly anticipate a fresh timetable: the new services stemming from the Ballarat Line Upgrade.
Major construction has now finished on the project, a $518million investment that has been underway since October 2017.
Aesthetic works, landscaping, testing and driver training are all that officially lie between the more frequent and reliable services promised.
If all goes to plan, trains will run from Ballarat Station every 20 minutes at peak time and 40 minutes outside of the busiest times.
It will also mean passengers with a penchant for rail history will bid farewell to the Bungaree loop, which plies a route that has existed since 1879.
Its decommissioning will go alongside other upgrades including major works at Wendouree, Ballan, Bacchus Marsh and Rockbank stations; upgraded signalling between Melton and Wendouree; an entirely new station at Cobblebank, and 18 kilometres of duplicated track between Deer Park West and Melton.
Regional Rail Revival Director Mark Havryluk told The Courier there would be another period of disruption for critical safety testing and to commission the new infrastructure.
For Ben Lever, the Ballarat convener of the Public Transport Users Association, the new services cannot come soon enough. He wants passengers to have more choice of travel times - and also hopes the new services will address overcrowding issues.
To Mr Lever the work so far seemed to have gone "reasonably smoothly" and appeared "on track".
While the Bungaree loop decommissioning might cause nostalgia for some, he said it made sense for passengers. The Regional Fast Rail project under the Steve Bracks government created a more direct single line from Bungaree to Millbrook, but the historical, meandering section - with five level crossings - was retained as a passing loop.
The preservation of the Bungaree loop was strongly sought - ultimately in vain - by Moorabool Shire councillors. They wanted to keep the possibility of a transport interchange at Wallace, a station decommissioned in 1969.
The new four-kilometre passing loop at Millbrook would help create faster and more consistent train times, Mr Lever said.
As for the new services, nothing is yet set in stone, with the Bungaree loop to remain until they begin. Mr Havryluk said the Department of Transport would be working closely with V/Line and Rail Projects Victoria on the new services, with timings to be confirmed in the new year.
He said the Rail Projects Victoria would continue working into the new year with Moorabool Shire Council to identify roads that have deteriorated due to the works vehicle movement.
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