A major timetable change will come into effect for metropolitan and regional trains in Victoria from 31 January, 2021.
The new timetable will add 280 metropolitan services and 170 regional services with a focus on enabling social distancing to occur once Victorians start to return to public transport. Extra services will be added on the shoulders of the current metropolitan peaks and more regional services will be added during the peak.
The new timetable is a result of infrastructure and rollingstock upgrades. Completion of works on the Cranbourne/Pakenham Line, as well as upgrade on the Ballarat line will allow more services to run. In addition, the introduction of new rollingstock on the metropolitan network will allow more services to run.
“We’re introducing the biggest timetable change in a decade – delivering 440 extra train services to our busiest lines to give Victorians more options on their journeys and increase capacity on our trains,” said Victorian Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll.
Across Melbourne, new services will be added on the Cranbourne, Pakenham, Frankston, Werribee, Williamstown, Upfield, Craigieburn, and Sunbury lines. This will mean peak frequencies every 10 minutes for three hours on the Craigieburn, Sunbury, and Werribee Lines.
To encourage off-peak travel, a 30 per cent discount on fares paid by myki will apply for those travelling between 9.30am and 4pm or after 7pm on weekdays.
“We know COVID Normal will see people travelling differently than in the past – working from home arrangements, more services and a discount for off-peak travel will make it easier for people to stagger their trips,” said Carroll.
Some changes to services will be instituted to prepare the network for the additional capacity with the opening of the Metro Tunnel. These include Frankston line services not running via the City Loop and instead running straight to Flinders Street and Southern Cross and then on to Werribee. Services on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines will run anti-clockwise through the City Loop.
For regional passengers, the new timetable will enable 20 minute frequencies during the peak and 40 minutes throughout the day. Outer Melbourne stations served by Ballarat Line trains will also benefit, with extra services at Cobblebank, Rockbank, Deer Park, and Melton stations. All Ballarat Line trains will stop at Bacchus Marsh.
The new services are enabled by extra crossing loops, duplication of key sections, and signalling upgrades that were part of the Ballarat Line Upgrade.
“We’re delivering the benefits of the Ballarat Line Upgrade – giving the Ballarat community more frequent trains than ever and improving access to jobs, healthcare and education for the growing communities along the line,” said Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan.
Extra services will also run on the Geelong Line, more morning express services on the Bendigo Line and more stops for passengers on the Traralgon line.
“This is just the first step in the massive improvements Victorians will see to our transport network, with new bigger, better trains as we prepare to deliver the Metro Tunnel and our upgrades of every regional rail line still to come,” said Carroll.