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The number of commuters from Bendigo to Melbourne has almost doubled in the past decade.
The study, conducted by a Melbourne-based researcher, has raised questions about how well train services will cope if the commuting trends continues to grow into the future.
The 80 per cent jump in the number of people commuting from the regional city to Melbourne for work was recorded during 2006 and 2016.
Todd Denham from RMIT's Centre for Urban Research has been studying what the growth in work travel means for regional communities.
"The evidence sort of shows that the growth in people commuting to Melbourne for work is more about people from Melbourne shifting to regional areas and maintaining their jobs rather than regional people necessarily finding jobs in the city," he said.
"So that in itself I think changes how you look at things like regional transport development."
Mr Denham said he thought the Geelong train services were buckling under the pressure more so than Bendigo trains.
"There is definitely evidence of the train services beginning to struggle," he said.
"People are not only getting on at earlier stations, they are getting on earlier as well."
Commuter numbers steadily growing
Mr Denham conducted surveys, interviewed people and analysed 2016 census data for his research.
"So it's not just the person who travels to work, it's the household that shifts into the communities that can have a regional effect," he said.
"Bendigo is the furthest out people would commute from.
"It means that people from Melbourne will be shifting in [to Bendigo] and that may lead to increased house prices.
"Places like the Macedon Ranges have now got up to 1,800 people travelling to Melbourne for work."
Trade-offs worth considering
Mr Denham said his research showed there were some benefits for couples, even if only one person was making the daily trip to Melbourne.
He said it was worth exploring the trade-offs that came with extended travel time and how households could benefit.
"Even though the person working may be travelling further, or a bit longer each day, the person staying at home might spend five minutes taking the kids to school and doing a little bit of shopping, which may have taken an hour and a half in the city," he said.
"Between Melbourne and Bendigo, those towns have people where each of the partners will commute either way.
"So if someone has a Bendigo job and someone has a Melbourne job, they might pick somewhere in the middle like Malmsbury [to live]," Mr Denham said.
Mr Denham also picked up some trends across certain work occupations.
"There seems to be a growth in particularly people who work in the inner-city in types of industries like finance, public administration and professional services," he said.
For Bendigo resident Tim Connors, who works in finance, he will stop his two-hour commute to Melbourne when he wants to focus on family.
"I said I'd give myself one or two years at a minimum to just try it out and then stick through it," he said.
"I'll see what happens after then, but the plan is to eventually get the experience there and then hopefully get a better job back here in Bendigo with that experience and build the family here."
The commute means Mr Connors has had to get up at 5:30am for the past eight months because he wanted to grab an undeniable career opportunity.
Mr Connors said he's mostly upbeat about the early starts.
"I'm usually at Southern Cross station just before 8:30am," he said.
"Then it's a five-minute walk up to my desk to the building where I am."
Commute gets slower as more people jump on board
Some commuters have questioned how well the train services can cope with more and more workers travelling between the city and the country.
Bendigo resident Andrew Barton has been travelling to Melbourne for work for more than a decade and said trains have slowed down.
"I'd love it if they created a real commuter capability from Bendigo on V-line," he said.
"It takes longer to get to Melbourne now than when I first started taking the train 10 years ago."
Mr Barton said timetable operations and delays have meant the train journeys took longer.
The Victorian Government said it was improving public transport services in Bendigo by introducing more train carriages and upgrading stations.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said this investment in the line was to improve reliability for passengers.
Commuters in New South Wales taking similar long journeys
Interstate workers have also been choosing to make the long journey to work by car to a different city.
Isabel Hawken has been working as a registered nurse in a leading intensive care unit.
It takes her an hour and a half on most days to travel between the Wollongong suburb of Thirroul to Sydney.
Ms Hawken has been trying to car-pool with a colleague as often as she can to get to work.
"I love working in Sydney but don't want to live in Sydney because it's outrageously expensive, overcrowded and too busy," she said.
"My fiance also works in Wollongong and it was a good midpoint for us both.
"I don't want to work in Sydney forever either.
"Working in a fast-paced ICU is great for now, but it will take its toll one day and I'll be glad to move away for good."
Ms Hawken said, in contrast, her Sydney-based colleagues were paying high rent prices to live close to work.
The housing affordability crisis has lead to some professional workers including teachers and nurses leaving Sydney.
The study found it would take an average of 13 years for a key worker to save for an inner-city house deposit, so they are living in regional NSW.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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