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Establishing fast rail to Geelong will be the state government's next priority now the Ballarat Line Upgrade is complete, but there may be other benefits for Ballarat commuters as work gets under way.
However, major upgrades will still be needed between Melbourne and Melton to deal with rapid population growth.
The state government's Western Rail Plan, co-funded with the federal government, notes the need to investigate how to electrify and quadruplicate the line from Sunshine to Melton and Wyndham Vale - this would separate V/Line trains heading to Geelong or Ballarat from what will eventually become suburban trains.
Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said on Monday there were already "announcements coming out of the (Western Rail Plan) work", including "an outcome" on the Melbourne Airport Rail Link's connection from Sunshine.
"The purpose for undertaking the planning for the western part of the network is not to produce a glossy document that gets released then sits on the shelf forever," Ms Allan said.
"It's about progressively planning the network so we can make improvements.
"We're progressively looking at works to unpack and provide extra services and capacity throughout the western part of the network, that's the Western Rail Plan's purpose."
The government will be monitoring patronage levels as the new timetable rolls out, but Ms Allan said Geelong will be the priority.
"I think we've been very upfront with the Ballarat community and indicated Geelong is our busiest regional rail line and Geelong is the area that's experiencing stronger population growth, so we've always identified we've needed to address the Geelong issue," she said.
"By announcing as part of the airport rail link program of works, the Geelong fast rail project, which will take those Geelong trains up the Werribee line, that frees up more space on the Ballarat corridor so we can run more train services."
This article first appeared on www.thecourier.com.au
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