Blink and you might miss it.
Passenger trains have returned to the Ballarat-Geelong line – but not for long.
Locals have been reporting several purple-and-green Vlocity trains a day using the freight track – which was the first built outside Melbourne (starting 1858), closed to passenger trains around 1978 and was still used as an alternative to the Ballarat-Melbourne line up until the 1990s.
So what’s going on?
Vline – who currently manage the track – says it is related to train maintenance.
“The Gheringhap to Warrenheip line is used for freight services traveling between north west Victoria and ports in Geelong and Melbourne but is certified for a small number of VLocity trains to run at slower than normal speeds and without passengers when required,” a spokeperson said.
“It’s important we keep up our regular train maintenance regime at all times so some VLocity trains have been using the Gheringhap freight line to access the Ballarat East maintenance facility under strict safety protocols.”
Normally the trains would use the Ballarat line to get there – but the track is closed until Saturday (30 January) while the final phases of the line to Melbourne are upgraded and a new timetable takes effect.
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Coaches have been replacing train services since December 27.
Vline wants locals in Moorabool’s west to be wary when crossing the Geelong line, as Vlocity trains may come from either direction at any time.
** In 2010 the Baillieu Government promised to look into the viability of re-opening the Ballarat-Geelong rail line to passenger trains and repairing disused stations.
A consultants report in 2013 revealed that reinstating the line from Geelong to Ballarat, Maryborough, Castlemaine and Bendigo would cost $935 million including track duplication.
The report also estimated that 2800 people a day would use the service by 2031.
It recommended the continuation of coach services.
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