Railway tracks between Melton and Sunshine will be quadrupled, passing loops west of Bacchus Marsh extended and level crossings removed under the Opposition’s bold $19 billion regional rail plan to cut travel times into Melbourne if it wins next month’s Victorian election.

The Coalition has promised to introduce a “European-style” rail network that will eventually reduce the trip from Ballarat to Melbourne to 45 minutes, down from the current 73 minutes.

The plan involves laying new tracks that will allow trains to travel at 200km/h, up from the current 160km/h, and introducing two new train fleets.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy is making the pitch to regional voters ahead of the election as part of his decentralisation plan.

“We need to decentralise population growth from Melbourne … we must grow all of Victoria,” he told reporters last week.

“The last four years has been focusing on Melbourne, Melbourne, Melbourne. This plan is providing an incentive to decentralise our population; it’s about opportunities and job growths outside of Melbourne.”

As part of the plan, express services from Ballarat to Melbourne will be introduced as early as next year to reduce travel times to 65 minutes.

Star Weekly asked the Opposition what the express services would mean for commuters in Melton and Moorabool and if existing services would be slashed to introduce the express services, but didn’t receive a response.

Public Transport Users Association Ballarat spokesman Ben Lever said it was “wary” of headline-grabbing promises for express services on the Ballarat line, which is plagued with capacity issues.

“The long sections of single track leave very few opportunities for trains to pass each other, which makes it hard to run trains frequently, and even harder to clear the path for
express trains,” he said.

“While the line is as close to capacity as it is now, having expresses often means getting other trains out of the way to give them a clean run, which means a few minutes off the journey for the small number of people who take the express train, while adding a long wait time for everyone else.”

But he welcomed plans to quadruple tracks and extend passing loops, and said this was the perfect opportunity for the Coalition to electrify the railway line between Melton
and Deer Park.