FORMER deputy prime minister and rail enthusiast, Tim Fischer, says services on the Bendigo rail line are “heading in the right direction”.
Multi-billion dollar upgrades separating regional and metro lines, and upgrading stations are underway in Melbourne.
Those behind the project say the line will have increased capacity and more reliability when the project is finished in 2016.
Mr Fischer told the Advertiser there had been a huge increase in demand for local rail services.
“The underlying problem and the mistake that was made a decade ago was doing the upgrade in broad gauge rather than standard gauge,” he said.
“But for the time being it should remain in broad gauge and operate at maximum speeds and frequency.
“There’s been a huge improvement in passenger utilisation.
“It’s too late to fix the gauge problem but it’s terrific to see the huge expansion in patronage.”
But Mr Fischer said switching the line from double to single track at Castlemaine was something “we’ll all live to regret”.
“I recently rode the Bendigo line and because of the breakdown of the train ahead the situation was difficult to recover quickly,” he said.
“But I think Bendigo and Ballarat are fairly well placed for the future.
“The best way forward is to stay with the broad gauge and to further enhance the service in frequency and speed.”
Mr Fischer said separating the rail line from suburban services in Melbourne would help achieve that.
“It’s heading in the right direction,” he said.
“The Regional Rail Link is a good thing.”