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Regional Victorians would get “commuter-style” train services heading to Melbourne every 20 minutes by the end of next decade, as part of a plan to bolster country lines.
Billions of dollars will be pumped into country rail to improve travel times and boost reliability — installing new signalling, duplicating tracks, and building stabling.
To start, the Ballarat line next year will switch over to a service frequency of 40 minutes during the day, compared to the current average of an hour.
This will be done as part of the $1.75 billion Regional Rail Revival — a federal and state partnership.
But the aim is to halve that frequency, to 20 minutes by 2030, and extend more regular services to Traralgon, Bendigo and Seymour, according to the State Government.
Off-peak, trains would arrive every 40 minutes.
Changes can’t come soon enough for most regional Victorians, who have slammed public transport in this state.
Train stations like this one in Bendigo, will have their workload increased, as the number of trains to Melbourne increase under a new state government plan.A PwC Australia survey of 4612 people found 68 per cent in inner Melbourne were satisfied with transport services in general compared with 23 per cent of regional Victorians.
By 2030 the state government’s Regional Network Development Plan is aimed at delivering five return services each weekday for long-distance lines including Albury-Wodonga, Bairnsdale, Echuca, Shepparton, Swan Hill and Warrnambool.
Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan, who is also the member for Bendigo East, said: “Our big build is about giving people choice about where they want to live and where they want to go”.
“These projects will slash travel times, reduce congestion, move produce from paddock to port quickly and deliver more trains, more often throughout regional Victoria,” she said.
Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said more should be done to reduce commute times to help people who are commuting to jobs.
“All of a sudden, you’re opening up the state,” he said.
“I just think Victorian should have options. If we’ve got transport options we’re giving people choices. A lot of Victorians are feeling constrained, they’re always having to compromise on what they want to do.”
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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