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The committee, which is made up of representatives from councils along the Ballarat V/Line route, is pushing to have the rail corridor to Bacchus Marsh electrified by the end of 2026.
At a meeting earlier this month Moorabool Shire Council voted in principle to support the push, however mayor Paul Tatchell said the regional group needed to ensure electrification would lead to the best outcomes for Bacchus Marsh commuters.
“In my view unless the trains run express (from Bacchus Marsh to Melbourne) then commuters will actually be delayed (on an electrified service),” Cr Tatchell said. “We would only be interested in electrification if it gave us more trains and greater efficiency.”
While electrification into the west is yet to receive funding, Premier Daniel Andrews gave his clearest indication yet in a speech last November when he said work on a Melbourne Airport rail link would begin before 2026, which would allow Metro and regional lines to be separated.
Premier Daniel Andrews
Earlier this week the federal government announced $5 billion for Melbourne’s airport rail link, with one of the four options put forward going through the western suburbs.
Rail Futures Institute president John Hearsch, who advised the lobby group, said electrification beyond Melton would be necessary to meet the growing populations of Ballarat and Bacchus Marsh.
Bacchus Marsh’s population is expected to tip 40,000 by 2041, while Ballarat’s population continues to steadily rise by about two per cent a year.
“One of the problems with Bacchus Marsh is that Ballarat’s patronage is growing and so is theirs,” Mr Hearsch said. “Without electrification going to Bacchus Marsh initially, getting it extended from Melton will take a much lower priority.”
Ballarat City mayor Samantha McIntosh said “"it is...crucial we make additions to our railways lines that create shorter connections to the metropolitan centre and our region”.
This article first appeared on www.thecourier.com.au
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