Liberal Member for Western Victoria, Simon Ramsay, believes the introduction of additional trains to the Geelong line would more immediately and better serve inter-city commuters, as well as the introduction of additional carriages.
More significantly, Mr Ramsay believes these trains should run via Werribee in peak times.
Referring to last week’s damning Auditor-General’s report on V/Line Passenger Services in Parliament, Mr Ramsay said he was shocked and appalled to read that the full benefits of the Regional Rail Link were not achieved when it opened in July 2015.
“The Regional Rail Link initially sounded promising for Geelong commuters. It cost an estimated $3.65 billion and caused patronage to rise by 80 per cent when it opened,” Mr Ramsay said.
“But as the Auditor-General reported this week, it has actually proven to be a massive setback with punctuality falling from 85.5 per cent to 78.3 per cent along the entire length of the Warrnambool corridor since it opened.
“If V/Line were to add more carriages to the trains it already runs from Geelong, not to mention the few additional trains it is scheduled to introduce at the end of this month, those trains are still going to run late. That means even more people are going to run late: for work, for school, for appointments.
“The short-term solution is simple. V/Line does not need every train out of Geelong to approach Melbourne via Wyndham Vale, Tarneit, Deer Park and Sunshine: especially if they are already near enough to full by the time they get that far.
“V/Line needs to urgently consider additional Geelong trains to the Werribee line in peak periods.
“There is most certainly excess capacity on that line because there are whole sections of track up there which no longer carry passenger trains. The Galvin and Paisley stations were closed in April 1985 because Werribee-line suburban electric trains were then routed through Altona and Westona instead.
“As the Auditor-General reported, ‘it is important to consider not only whether trains are reaching capacity but also at what location and for how long.’”
“He reported: ‘The most significant increases occur at Wyndham Vale and Tarneit stations.’ These are busy suburban stations, they generate sufficient passenger numbers to fill peak-hour trains and do not need Geelong or Warrnambool passengers to make those services viable.
“V/Line must consider running express services from Geelong via Werribee, through the former Galvin and Paisley stations, to Footscray and Southern Cross. It is not a long-term solution but it will immediately relieve crowding and bypass the Ballarat line junction between Tarneit and Deer Park.”
Mr Ramsay supported the idea that more carriages be added as well as investigating a four-carriage set, rather than the standard three-car velocity which are often paired to make up six-car sets.
This will require an extension of platforms to stations like North Geelong, Wyndham and Tarneit but will, in the longer term, provide a better service for peak periods for commuters.
“Longer trains cannot be considered as a solution to overcrowded trains until some platforms can be made long enough to receive them.”