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ARARAT’S new V/Line passenger rail services have started as of Sunday, with 19 new options for travel to and from Ballarat and Melbourne.
Regional Development Minister and Western Victoria MP Jaala Pulford rode one of the new services from Wendouree to Beaufort on Monday morning.
Ms Pulford was greeted at Beaufort Railway Station by Ararat Rural City Mayor Paul Hooper and Pyrenees Shire Mayor Ron Eason, Councillor Michael O’Connor and chief executive Jim Nolan.
Both mayors said they hoped the new schedule would improve population growth, access to services and business opportunities, particularly with the new early morning train from Ararat to Melbourne.
“It’s something we have worked on with Pyrenees Shire for a couple of years at least,” Cr Hooper said.
“Ms Pulford and Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan have listened, they have given us a good hearing.
“They listened to our arguments and the logic behind them and they have acted.”
Cr Eason said the new services would make regional Victoria more livable.
“You don’t have to live in Melbourne, you can be in the country and still have the facilities and services you need,” he said.
Ms Pulford said the 19 additional services would give passengers easier access to work, school and other events in Melbourne.
“Reliable and regular public transport is a key way of attracting new residents to rural Victoria and I’m sure these extra services will help make places like Beaufort and Ararat even better places to live, work and raise a family.”
V/Line’s connecting coach services have also had their timetables adjusted to fit with the new trains, with extra coaches to and from Nhill, Dimboola, Ararat and Halls Gap.
Cr Michael O’Connor said the trains would offer a cheaper alternative than driving to Melbourne and paying for parking.
“It’s obviously an advantage here in Beaufort, on the western edge our housing development is going gangbusters,” he said.
“We can get into Melbourne now just on two hours, you can get there by 8.30am, you might have to catch the early train but you can live here and work in Melbourne.
“It really increased the livability here in Beaufort, we are looking at a bypass in the future, same as Ararat, and this is just another piece fitting in the pie to making this a great place to live and visit.”
The state government had been hinting at new Ararat passenger rail services since after the latest budget in May.
The state government’s Victoria-wide Regional Rail Revival project was dependent on a deal with the federal government for bonus funding for signing a long-term private lease on the Port of Melbourne.
The federal government agreed to provide an additional $1.5 billion for rail in June.
The state government has also committed $39 million to improve rail line stability between Ararat, Ballarat and Melbourne.
Ararat train departures Monday to Friday
Monday and Friday only
Ararat train arrivals Monday to Friday
10.41am (SC 8.16am B 9.45am)
Information presented for illustrative purposes only. Please refer to the V/Line website or call 1800 800 007 or TTY: (03) 9619 2727 for the latest timetable information prior to planning your journey.
The full new V/Line timetables are also available on the V/Line website
This article first appeared on www.mailtimes.com.au
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