By Luke Voogt
More trains on the Geelong line will give peak-hour travellers welcome respite from rampant overcrowding, according to a local transport advocate.
Public Transport Users Association Geelong convenor Paul Westcott welcomed V/Line introducing 74 services on the line in seven weeks.
“That will take some pressure off Geelong trains,” he said.
V/Line this week announced the busiest 12 months on record on the Geelong line with than 7.7 million passengers during 2016/’17.
Meanwhile, disgruntled peak-hour train users posted complaints and photos of passengers crowding carriage corridors almost weekly during the 12-month period.
Often peak-hour trains were “over 100 per cent full”, Mr Westcott said.
“It’s not much consolation for people who are standing but it’s better for a service to be well patronised than poorly patronised.”
Mr Westcott said Tarneit Station was the biggest contributor to passenger increases on the Geelong line, along with population growth and increases in service frequency.
The State Government opened the station in June 2015, as part of the Regional Rail Link, and it quickly became the second busiest in Victoria.
Trains services solely to Tarneit and Wyndham Vale under the new timetable would help congestion on the line, he said.
“But if patronage keeps increasing it may be like a dog chasing its tail.”
Mr Westcott said State and Federal governments needed to speed up the duplication of the line from Waurn Ponds to South Geelong.
Public Transport Victoria planners showed him blueprint to duplicate the line in sections two years ago, he said.
“There’s no reason why you couldn’t build the line in sections. That would be better than doing nothing.”
The duplication would greatly increase the frequency of services, Mr Westcott said, despite the line still narrowing to a single track at the tunnel to Geelong Station.
“It would remain a choke point but it only takes trains three minutes to get through the tunnel.”
V/Line chief executive officer James Pinder said the 74 extra services would cater to the extra people using trains to get to work, study, appointments and recreation.
Both State and Federal governments budgeted to duplicate the line from Wuarn Ponds to South Geelong this year.
V/Line delivered 89.6 per cent of Geelong trains on time last month, the best monthly result since October 2016.