Bendigo train line‘reaching capacity’

TRAIN services to Bendigo will not be able to keep up with demand unless the state government invests in major upgrades, a V/Line report submitted to the government shows.

The report, obtained by the Greens, showed V/Line train services were reaching capacity and wouldn’t be able to cope with the forecast growth in Bendigo, Castlemaine, Kyneton and Macedon.

With the Regional Rail Link set to open in 2016, the report suggested more funding was needed for extra trains.

The Initial Strategic Operations Plan document sent to the government in 2011 also recommended a full duplication of the tracks between Castlemaine and Harcourt to allow for more services.

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber said there were clear issues that needed addressing and if capacity problems weren’t solved, the Bendigo service would become steadily overcrowded.

“What’s really needed is a long-term plan for continual expansion of services,” he said.

“The report shows a limited increase in service after the Regional Rail Link opens in 2016, and again in 2018, but beyond that they won’t be able to fit any more trains on the current lines.”

Mr Barber said the indications from the report reflected public opinion that Bendigo, Castlemaine and Woodend stations should be renovated with better facilities. 

“It also explains to the government that people don’t only commute to Melbourne,” he said. 

“There is strong demand for a Kyneton and Castlemaine commuter service to Bendigo.” 

A V/Line spokesman confirmed the document from November 2011 was part of a strategic report to inform the government on operation plans and requirements.

Mr Barber said commuters deserved greater focus in the upcoming budget.

“There’s some small but important investments that can be done straight away,” he said. 

“We will find out in the May budget if the government will commit funding for train services in regional Victoria.” 

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