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CONSTRUCTION of Geelong fast rail to Melbourne via Werribee is due to start in 2023 but the project’s delivery date is unknown.
Following a $4bn commitment to the project equally split between Spring St and Canberra, Premier Daniel Andrews said more work was needed to determine the project’s end date.
“It has to be done right. It is just a little bit longer for us to put an end date on this. But we will certainly be underway in 2023. 2022 we will be out to market,” Mr Andrews said.
He said the project would cut travel time to 50 minutes between Geelong and Melbourne.
“It will allow, because we’re building brand new track (between Werribee and Laverton) and separating the services, us to run more trains.”
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said it was proposed six trains an hour would run between Geelong and Melbourne when the first stage of the fast rail project is complete.
“We’d be proposing to run three express on the Werribee corridor and three on the existing Wyndham Vale corridor, retaining that six trains per hour that Geelong have at the moment,” Ms Allan said.
“(Airport rail, Metro Tunnel and Geelong fast rail) do have an eye for what our network needs now in terms of capacity contraints... it’s also got an eye for future growth particularly in the west (of Melbourne) where there is significant demand for train capacity.”
The government was unable to say when 40-minute Geelong fast rail services would become a reality because further planning work is needed.
Public Transport Users Association Geelong convener Paul Westcott said frequency, reliability and capacity was key to good public transport.
“If you are going to split (Geelong) trains between the two routes, the ideal would be to run more trains so that the amount of time between trains on each route isn’t extended too much,” Mr Westcott said.
“This project offers slightly faster rail and that’s good. In the end it’s not the speed that counts it’s the reliability, capacity and frequency that’s the key.”
Mr Westcott said two tracks should be build on each section of dedicated rail built for the Geelong fast rail project.
“(Only having one dedicated track) would mean you could only run trains in one direction; maybe during the morning peak you’d have trains running to Melbourne on the single track and in the afternoon peak you’d have trains running from Melbourne on the single track. “That’s not ideal because there’s a good deal of counter-peak travel.
“It’s a bit hard to see a dedicated track being able to be provided (for Geelong services) from Newport into Footscray (on the Werribee route).”
Victorian Senator Sarah Henderson said: “this plan will … take pressure off the Regional Rail Link. I will continue to advocate for a dedicated station for Avalon Airport.”
Federal Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge said: “This is a critical route for faster rail which will make a huge difference for thousands of Victorians.”
Greater Geelong’s population is due to hit 485,000 by 2051.
This article first appeared on www.geelongadvertiser.com.au
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