MULTI-BILLION dollar train line upgrades will create a more reliable service for Bendigo residents, according to those behind the project.
The Advertiser was recently given a behind-the-scenes look at the $4.4 billion Regional Rail Link upgrades in Melbourne.
The Advertiser was the only local media to view the station redevelopment and infrastructure works, which will add the capacity for an extra peak hour Bendigo service when the project is complete in 2016.
Regional Rail Link Authority chief operating officer Allen Garner said the revamp would separate regional and city rail services.
Mr Garner said Bendigo trains were often caught in a bottleneck behind metro trains once they reached the city.
“I think ultimately it’s going to open Bendigo up to Melbourne, it’s going to bring it closer to Melbourne,” he said.
“The project is like building a new four-lane freeway into Melbourne.
“From a sustainability point of view it’s much better than building freeways but it does enable people to choose lifestyles and move more out of the city.
“I think there are great growth opportunities for regional centres.”
Footscray station will become a hub for regional services, and North Melbourne will become a metro hub.
Mr Garner said the state government could “bolt on further rail projects” to enhance services.
“It’s about being able to provide more trains and more certainty than about (improving) times,” he said.
“It’s not about speed, it’s about reliability and capacity.
“There’s certainly the ability to keep increasing services as the need from Bendigo arises.”
A V/Line spokesperson said the Regional Rail Link was “one of the most important pieces of transport infrastructure in recent Victorian history”.
V/Line services will be progressively added to the network.
Regional Rail Link Authority communications and stakeholder relations director Simon Breer said an extra peak hour service would equate to about 600 addition people on the Bendigo line each way.
“One extra train is the key benefit,” he said.
“As the population grows they’ll have the infrastructure there for increased services.”
About 2000 people are working on the upgrades which involves the construction of 90 kilometres of new track, two new stations, upgrades to four stations, 13 road and rail separations and the removal of two level crossings.
Regional Rail Link Authority figures show a 150 per cent increase in V/Line services in Bendigo, Geelong and Ballarat from 2005 to 2011.