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Representatives from the six councils along the Ballarat rail line are set to ramp up pressure on the state government for improved services as the corridor prepares for a massive population boom.
On Sunday representatives from the Ballarat City, Brimbank City, Melton City, Moorabool Shire, Pyrenees Shire and Ararat Rural City councils met to discuss the projects needed to ensure the train line is able to cope with demand.
The representatives heard from rail experts while also formulating a list of priorities for the V/Line service.
High on the list of priorities is the line electrification to Melton, which if completed would take commuters in Melbourne’s second fastest growth zone off the regional train service.
The project has been noted as a medium term priority by both Infrastructure Victoria and Infrastructure Australia.
Melton City mayor Sophie Ramsey said changes which were made at any point along the line would impact commuters from all six municipalities so it was important councils were united in their advocacy.
“When we as a region get together to advocate for the corridor, we represent close to half-a-million people,” Cr Ramsey said.
“Our commuters need to not invest in a second car and to do that they need a timely rail service but the service needs to be reliable and that's one of the biggest ticket items.”
The meeting comes after the state government recently reaffirmed its commitment to roll out a $518 million upgrade of the Ballarat line which includes duplication of track between Melton and Deer Park, a host of additional passing loops and additional stabling.
The Ballarat line will also receive an additional 18 services a week in late August when the new timetable is implemented, while Ararat will receive an extra 10.
However performance on the Ballarat line has consistently lagged over the last two years, rarely coming close to the state 92 per cent punctuality goal.
The six councils have previously worked collaboratively to lobby state and federal governments for the Western Highway investment.
Ararat Rural City mayor Paul Hooper said ensuring the government invested in long term rail infrastructure was crucial for the future prosperity of regional Victoria.
“We want rural and regional Victoria to be somewhere people choose to live and one of the drivers of the choice is access to fantastic public transport and communication,” Cr Hooper said.
“Whilst we recognise it will take a significant chunk of money, this isn't infrastructure that just lasts five minutes, it will last 50 to 80 years.”
This article first appeared on www.mailtimes.com.au
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