LATEST

 

Residents are counting down the days until the first passengers can board a train at Mernda.

Test trains began running on the Mernda Rail Extension earlier this week, with the first train departing from South Morang station on Monday morning.

Speculation is mounting in the community that trains will be officially running from August 26.

South Morang and Mernda Rail Alliance spokesman Darren Peters said it was great to see the first train in almost 60 years depart for Mernda.

“This train- the first since 1959- represents a victory for all of the community who fought to stop [a] busway from being built,” he said.

“We should all be celebrating today because instead of a 40-seat bus for tens of thousands of residents, we have a high capacity train that can move thousands per hour.

“Thank you so much to everyone who supported our community campaign and well done to the tradies whose hard work will see us riding the rails.”

Darren Peters waits for a night test train to depart from South Morang station (supplied).

Monday’s trip followed an announcement by Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan on June 21 that test trains would begin running between South Morang and Mernda stations in July.

Test trains were not meant to run on the extension until September.

 

Ms Allan said trains were able to hit the tracks earlier than expected because the $600 million project was ahead of schedule.

She said the test trains would collect data to inform the new timetable as it travels up the line.

Among the passengers on this morning’s test train was Yan Yean MP Danielle Green, who broadcast the journey via Facebook live.

 

Yan Yean MP Danielle Green with Level Crossing Removal Authority chief executive Kevin Devlin on board the first test train (supplied).

 

Speaking at last month’s announcement that the extension would be tested ahead of schedule, Ms Green said she hoped the news would delight locals.

“Reaching this landmark moment is a testament to the hard work of our engineers and construction workers,” she said.