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NINE of Geelong’s busiest V/Line services are at 100 per cent seating capacity less than a week after the opening of the Regional Rail Link (RRL).
But Public Transport Victoria and the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) have hailed the first five days of the new timetable — which includes peak services from Geelong every 10 minutes — a resounding success.
V/Line figures from Monday’s opening until Thursday evening reveal four of thirteen peak Geelong line morning services hit 100% seat occupation, with half of the 10 peak evening services also at standing room only. An additional two evening trains were 99 per cent full.
Crowding has long been a problem on the Geelong line.
The new timetable adds 200 services every week between Geelong and Melbourne, including two extra trains during each weekday peak period.
PTUA Geelong convener Paul Westcott said he was yet to receive any complaints about overcrowding, with week one appearing to have “gone reasonably well.”
He said new 20 minute off-peak weekday services were proving the RRL’s greatest advantage, providing increased commuter convenience and allowing public transport to better compete with car travel.
But with the line now skipping Werribee station, Mr Westcott said a new shuttle bus connecting Wyndham Vale station to the popular destination was causing some early headaches.
“It was promised the bus would meet trains at Wyndham Vale, and at least one person has said they had to wait 20 minutes, which is clearly not what was promised and is not desirable at all,” he said.
While the RRL promises commuters greater reliability thanks to untangling the metropolitan and regional tracks, a PTV spokeswoman acknowledged the Geelong line had encountered a number of delays throughout the week.
“There have been some delays on the line due to track faults and also a faulty locomotive, which held up several services at Footscray last night (Thursday night),” the spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman said RRL was providing customers a far broader choice of travel times, also outlining plans to continue “closely monitoring the activity and patronage each day” for a full review in six months time.
“We are also continuing to progressively roll out new VLocity carriages onto the network and these will be placed where there is the highest demand,” she said.
“The introduction of Regional Rail Link is a significant change for the Geelong line and as part of any new timetable, it always takes a couple of weeks to bed down.”
Despite some kinks, Mr Westcott said passengers were already seeing the benefits of increased reliability and frequency.
Mr Westcott suggested while it would be difficult to beat the frequency of 10 minute peak services, he was hopeful new carriages would lighten crowding.
“However, on the Geelong line many trains are at passenger capacity and also have seven carriages, which is the maximum allowable,” he said.
This article first appeared on www.geelongadvertiser.com.au
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