The entire 47.5km Regional Rail Link will become fully operational on Sunday June 21 with Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan today announcing the new timetable changes necessary for services to start using the entire line.
Amongst the highlights: the Geelong line will see an extra 200 services a week translating into a train near-on every 10 minutes in the morning peak departing Geelong for Southern Cross and the same in afternoon peaks departing Southern Cross for Geelong to cater for commuter demand. In off-peak periods trains will run every 20 minutes.
The Regional Rail link project, apart from the dedicated regional traffic tracks from Sunshine to Southern Cross, will link the Geelong line to the Ballarat line. Ballarat will see an extra service in the morning and afternoon peaks, Bacchus Marsh will have four extra services stop during peaks and Deer Park station will see services stop at that station every 20 minutes as opposed to every 2 hours at present.
Geelong services during the weekdays will have a few different categories of stopping patterns with stopping all stations (excluding Deer Park and Ardeer where Geelong line services will share track with but the services will be operated by the Ballarat line), semi-express and express.
According to the timetable now viewable on PTV's site, the flagship express trains originate at Waurn Ponds and stop at every suburban Geelong station and upon departing the northern end of the Geelong metro at Lara, the trains will run non-stop to Sunshine with another archetypal 'drop off only' stop at Footscray before arriving at Southern Cross. End to end the journey is timetabled to take 1 hour 11 minutes from Geelong's south western extremity in Waurn Ponds to the city; Geelong to Southern Cross is timetabled at 56 minutes.
With an approximate distance of 80km from Geelong Station to Southern Cross via the Regional Rail Link and a timetabled journey of 56 minutes, that represents an average speed of 86kph.
There are two new stations inside Metropolitan Melbourne which will see regional services: Wyndham Vale station is set to see a 10 minute frequency of service in peaks, 20 minute service frequency in off-peak on weekdays and Tarneit will see 20 minute service frequencies in peak and off-peak.
Turning to the weekend timetables the new tracks will not see nowhere near as many trains per hour as they will during the weekdays with hourly stopping-all-station services the only fixture, excluding the two trains which originate in Warnambool, for both Saturdays and Sundays.
The journey time for stopping all stations trains from Geelong to Southern Cross is 1 hour and 2 minutes.
Perhaps the biggest Public Transport service change is occurring not on the rails but on the roads with an enormous bus service increase through Wyndham. Despite some 'neighbourhood' routes still squiggling their way through suburban back streets, when you eyeball the Wyndham map published on PTV's site a robust mesh of routes now exists between the two new Geelong line stations and Werribee, Hoppers Crossing and Williams Landing stations.
According to the summary of network changes on PTV's site, an extra 2300 bus trips will be made each week bringing the total up to 7900 from 6300.
Here's the last flyover video from August 2014 of the Regional Rail Link's posted on the project's website.
Lead image credit: regionalraillink.vic.gov.au