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V/LINE has tabled a bold $6 million plan to dramatically improve train travel between Geelong and Melbourne
The rail carrier wants to run three trains an hour during off-peak periods and has briefed City Hall on the scheme. .
The plan would introduce about 24 extra services between 9am and 4.30pm on weekdays.
It would be a boon for commuters with off-peak services currently running only at hourly intervals between Geelong and Melbourne.
Public Transport Users' Group Geelong convenor Paul Westcott yesterday said the move would be "revolutionary".
Mr Westcott said if off-peak passengers missed a train, it would only mean a 20-minute wait until the next one, whereas if it was an hour wait they would probably jump in their car
"It was V/Line that actually generated the proposal on the basis that they have got so much rolling stock now with the V/Locity order having just been completed that they are finding difficulty in parking it everywhere in the off peak," he said.
"So they thought it was preferable to have it running around rather than stick it in some sidings that they didn't have.
"They made up the business case and put it to the Government, I think the major expense was the 20 extra drivers that would be needed, and the previous Government accepted their case and made it their policy.
"We talked to V/Line about it early this year and they said the case still stands."
The public transport users' group has been calling for more frequent services for years, and Mr Westcott said it would make public transport more competitive compared to car travel.
State Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said the Government was always looking at ways to improve Geelong's trains.
"Recently V/Line had a small timetable change to better match train capacity with demand on some trips," he said.
"The Coalition Government has faced a situation since coming to government where, thanks to Labor's financial mismanagement, the cost of the Regional Rail Link has blown out by around $1 billion.
"The Coalition's priority is in completing the Regional Rail Link, not withstanding that the Commonwealth Government's decision to defer $500 million previously committed RRL funding will delay completion until 2016."
Geelong Mayor John Mitchell said yesterday more frequent services would definitely be welcome.
"There is no doubt the plan is there and the capability is there to do that," Cr Mitchell said.
"It would come at a cost and the cost would be recurrent. I think they said they would need an extra seven to 10 drivers and the rolling stock is there."
Cr Mitchell said the city was supportive of such a move, which he said appeared to be achievable.
"There is no doubt that to have a 20-minute off-peak service to Melbourne would certainly benefit us greatly," he said.
"Deakin would also support it with the extra students coming to the waterfront and Waurn Ponds campuses over the coming years."
A spokesman for V/Line said the only thing he could say was to confirm there was a proposal but it was up to the State Government to make a decision.
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