VICTORIAN Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan last week released the timetables for the much-anticipated 21 June opening of Melbourne's first new major rail line in 80 years, the $3.65 billion Regional Rail Link project.
According to the Minister, the new timetable adds 200 services every week between Geelong and Melbourne, including trains every 10 minutes in the morning peak and every 20 minutes off-peak on weekdays. These services will run through new stations in the growth suburbs of Wyndham Vale and Tarneit.
The new route for Geelong trains will also deliver benefits for commuters on other lines, with two extra peak hour services on the Werribee Line and four extra peak hour services stopping at Bacchus Marsh. Trains will also run at least every 20 minutes on weekdays to Deer Park Station, rather than every two hours as they currently do.
Ballarat and Bendigo services, which already use Regional Rail Link tracks between Sunshine and Southern Cross Station, will also benefit from the timetable change.
Ballarat will get an extra morning and evening peak service, and Bendigo services will see travel time improvements, with further improvements expected later in the year with the next metropolitan timetable change.
New bus networks in Wyndham Vale, Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula will coincide with the opening of Regional Rai Link, providing more extensive, frequent, reliable and direct bus services, coordinated with trains.
The Regional Rail Link was designed to remove major bottlenecks in Victoria's rail network by separating regional trains from metropolitan trains. It includes new dedicated regional tracks from West Werribee Junction to Deer Park and then along the existing rail corridor from Sunshine to Southern Cross Station.
The project included the construction of two new stations at Wyndham Vale and Tarneit, a rebuilt West Footscray railway station, a rebuilt Sunshine railway station, a major upgrade to Footscray railway station and two new platforms at Southern Cross Station.