A group of six councils west of Melbourne say their residents are sick and tired of having to rely on dated rail infrastructure – straight out of the 19th Century.
Brimbank, Melton, Moorabool, Ballarat, Ararat and Pyrenees councils have banded together to call on the State Government for a $50 million commitment toward the electrification of the Ballarat line, ahead of the 2018 state election.
Currently, the Ballarat line is only electrified to Sunshine station.
The electrification shortfall is limiting the number of services running from Melbourne’s CBD through to Melton considerably, according to Ballarat Rail Action Committee (BRAC) spokesperson and City of Melton Mayor Bob Turner.
Electrifying the rail line to Melton will triple its carrying capacity, and allow up to 1400 people to travel on a single train.
“We’re tired of old, out-of-date rail infrastructure literally built in the 19th Century,” Cr Turner said. “It’s unreliable, full, slow and uncomfortable.”
“The solution is clear; electrification of the rail line up to Melton is urgent and needs to happen now.”
Usage numbers on the Ballarat line have more than tripled in the past 10 years.
“As it stands, the Ballarat rail line no longer meets the needs of our booming population,” he said.
“Suburbs west of Melbourne are experiencing unprecedented population growth and the role of this railway will be fundamental in coming years.”
“Electrification allows the pending Metro Tunnel project to be fully utilised from day one.”
In order for greater frequency and reliability on the Ballarat line, western councils need a commitment for electrification to Melton by the State Government, in conjunction with a longterm corridor development plan.
BRAC has released two reports - The Strategy for Managing Explosive Passenger Growth on the Melton Bacchus Railway and Strategy for a High Performing Ballarat Railway - addressing the urgent and long-term needs of tens of thousands of commuters between Melbourne’s CBD, all the way through to Ararat.
City of Ballarat Mayor, Cr Samantha McIntosh, said that within 10 years, the rail line from Melbourne to Ballarat will require 30 trains a day, just to meet demand.
“Peak services to and from Ballarat are reaching capacity, and it’s common for our residents to have to stand for the entire hour-plus journey,” Cr McIntosh said.
Mayor of Brimbank Cr Margaret Giudice welcomed the launch of the two BRAC reports, which address the urgent and long term needs of commuters between Melbourne’s CBD through to Ararat.
“It is exciting to see that the three top infrastructure priorities that the six councils are calling for – of electrifying the rail line to Melton, the upgrade of the Ardeer and Deer Park stations, and for the removal of three dangerous and congested level crossings in Brimbank – are all key measures that will improve travel in and around our municipality.
“There is an urgent need to fast track the rail grade separations at the congested intersections of Robinsons Road, Deer Park; Station Road, Deer Park; and Fitzgerald Road, Sunshine West.
“While it is fantastic to see more trains operating due to the diversion of the Geelong line through Deer Park and the creation of the Wyndham Vale line, the flow-on effects are causing havoc on surrounding local roads in Brimbank. During the morning peak time, boom gates at these intersections are down for 30 to 40 minutes per hour with traffic backing up for more than 650 metres, causing unacceptable and dangerous traffic jams.
“Brimbank Council is asking the State Government to fast track these much needed grade separations at Robinsons Road, Deer Park; Station Road, Deer Park and Fitzgerald Road, Sunshine West” Cr Giudice said.