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A TRAIN shortage and insufficient track access in and out of Melbourne is choking the Geelong line, the boss of Public Transport Victoria says.
Jeroen Weimar said the shortages meant express trains weren’t a possibility for the line — now considered regional Victoria’s busiest commuter corridor.
“I’ve got significant pressure on how many trains I’ve got, how much track access I’ve got and how many passengers I’ve got.
“Running an express train from Geelong to Southern Cross (station)...will sacrifice too many paths that I frankly can’t afford,” Mr Weimar said in an interview with the Geelong Advertiser.
V/Line data for February shows 7 of 12 services leaving Geelong and arriving at Southern Cross before 9am on a weekday are running at more than 95 per cent capacity.
The data also shows the Geelong line has failed to meet its punctuality target of 92 per cent in 28 of the past 31 months.
Geelong commuters will be given some respite between July and September with about 10 more services to be added to the line.
“We haven’t yet nailed down exactly how many additional services we are putting in but there will be a significant number,” Mr Weimar said.
The plan comes after 18 services were added in January.
Commuters are in for delays of up to 45 minutes next week as V/Line embarks on a $4.4 million maintenance program on the Geelong and Warrnambool lines.
About 5000 buses will be called in to replace every train on the Geelong line between April 8 and 16.
Mr Weimar said the work would “ensure we can keep trains running reliably”.
The Opposition’s public transport spokesman David Hodgett said the state of the Geelong line was hampering the city’s growth.
“If we are trying to encourage people to live in a regional area and commute into (Melbourne) they need an affordable, safe and punctual service.
“People are just fed up of delayed or cancelled trains and are choosing to drive and that adds more congestion,” Mr Hodgett said.
Mr Weimar said commuter pain could not be eased with longer trains as many of the Geelong line platforms could not accommodate trains longer than six carriages.
And moving Tarneit and Wyndham Vale stations on to Melbourne’s Metro network is too steep a task.
“To take the metropolitan line all the way down to Wyndham Vale and Tarneit would be a significant expansion of the electrified network,” Mr Weimar said.
He said extending the Geelong line to Torquay or duplicating the Geelong line between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds were not currently part of PTV plans.
This article first appeared on www.geelongadvertiser.com.au
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