The final phase of testing and commissioning for the Ballarat Line Upgrade will be carried out during late December 2020 and January 2021.
The jointly funded project is in its final stages after construction was completed in 2019, said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack.
“We’re excited to see the Ballarat Line Upgrade at this final stage, preparing the line for those much-needed extra services and better reliability for passengers in these growing communities,” said McCormack.
“It’s been more than three years in the making and nearly 1.6 million hours of work by dedicated crews, and we’re now on the home stretch to delivering huge benefits for passengers.”
Once critical safety testing is completed and drivers are trained for the new elements of the line, passengers will be able to take advantage of further increases to services between Ballarat and Melbourne, said Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan.
“We’re thrilled passengers will soon see the full benefits of the Ballarat Line Upgrade, but first we must complete this crucial final step on the project, as we integrate new track, a new signalling system and other infrastructure onto the existing rail line,” said Allan.
“It’s one of the most critical tasks undertaken on the project to date and it’s taken time to get the right resources in place to deliver this final piece of the project.”
While construction was largely finished in 2019, the new signalling system, which will allow more trains to run more frequently, was the last element of the project to be bedded in.
“Our rail experts have continued complex and extensive signalling design and planning work throughout the year in preparation for the commissioning, and passengers will soon enjoy the benefits of this hard work,” said Allan.
While buses replace trains, 500 metres of track duplication between Bacchus Marsh and Maddingley and at two level crossings in Ballan will be installed.
Once services return to the line, the new second platforms at Ballan, Bacchus Marsh, and Wendouree will open. The new station at Cobblebank has already opened and other stations have benefited from upgrades.
Already, two extra peak weekday services have been running between Melton and Southern Cross Station. Once complete, trains will run every 40 minutes in the off peak.