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Commuters in Melbourne's east have been told to allow at least an extra hour for journeys into the city during a six-day construction blitz that's set to be a pre-Christmas travel nightmare.
The $42 million around-the-clock operation will upgrade ageing signalling infrastructure and improve power supply between Richmond and Camberwell stations.
Buses will replace trains on sections of the Belgrave, Lilydale, Alamein and Glen Waverley lines from 8.30pm on Thursday until the last service next Tuesday, December 5.
Passengers have been advised to allow up to an extra 70 minutes when travelling into the city.
PTV chief executive Jeroen Weimar said he understood the works would be "frustrating" for passengers.
"But these works are a crucial part of ensuring we can deliver a reliable service in the long term for passengers on one of the busiest corridors on our network," he said.
The blitz is expected to cause major disruptions, especially in peak hour.
"It's not going to be pretty," Public Transport Users Association spokesman Daniel Bowen said.
Mr Bowen said the four affected lines were some of Melbourne's busiest and replacement buses would inevitably struggle with passenger loads.
"Most people appreciate that these sorts of works have to happen to improve the system," he said.
"You can only hope they'll be putting enough buses on the ground and enough staff on the ground."
Most of the Richmond-Camberwell corridor relies on decades-old signalling, in part dating back to the 1920s.
A team of about 200 people will work all day and night to ensure the project is completed before another major construction blitz on Melbourne's road and rail network over summer.
Replacement buses will run between Parliament and Camberwell stations on the Belgrave, Lilydale and Alamein lines, and between Darling and Richmond stations on the Glen Waverley line.
Metro spokeswoman Sammie Black said the works were essential to ensure the ongoing safety and efficiency of the network.
"We understand that disruptions like this are frustrating, unfortunately it's never a good time to disrupt so many busy train services," she said.
Major works are being carried out on a number of lines in the Metro network.
On the Hurstbridge line, buses are replacing trains between Heidelberg and Macleod while a new station is built at Rosanna.
There will be major disruptions during a 44-day construction blitz next March and April.
Two shorter blitzes are planned for December 9 and 10, and January 18 to 23.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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