A train to the centre of Melbourne in 90 minutes from Bendigo with a small number of selected passenger stops along the corridor should be the basis of an hourly service all day, both ways on the Bendigo – Melbourne Fast Train corridor.
At Environment Victoria (EV) the peak statewide environment organisation we have supported the Fast Train project on the four corridors across Victoria since its original announcement by the Bracks government. We think travelers, the environment and the economy will benefit most if services on the Bendigo line are slightly slower but significantly more frequent each day of the week. Most importantly, a 90 minute service would still be much faster than driving.
In May last year the Transport Minister Mr Batchelor launched the EV report Driving the Fast Train Further – better public transport across all Victoria. In our report we propose a regular interval timetable for each of the corridors. Major centres along the corridors would be served by ALL trains, enabling fast and convenient trips all day between all the main centres up and down the corridors as well as dramatically improved access to Melbourne. Regular interval train services are easier to operate reliably and easier to remember for users. An example, the Bendigo service to Melbourne may operate at 10 past the hour every day from 5am to 11pm.
For the Bendigo corridor our recommendation is for hourly trains to/from Bendigo once per hour all day, including early morning trains to Bendigo and late night trains in both directions. Some extra peak commuter trains may be needed but the regular pattern should run with minimum disruption. The decision has been made to only provide a single track rail line north of Kyneton (upgraded for 160km/hour and with electronic signalling). Regular interval trains will make best use of the more limited capacity on this part of the route.
All Bendigo trains should be operated by the new Fast Train railcars for 160km/hour running and maximum comfort. Intermediate stations such as Castlemaine and Kyneton should be stops for all Bendigo express trains we believe. At Kyneton easy interchange to all stations stopping trains should be arranged in the timetable. Community consultation may indicate the need for some other stops on a regular basis as well.
The Department of Infrastructure is hosting a series of community forums along the Bendigo train line corridor. Next week a Bendigo forum will be held on Wednesday 2 October at the Capitol Theatre, 50 View St from 7pm to 8:30pm with an information session from 2pm to 3:30pm. A forum in Castlemaine will be held on Thursday 3 October at the Old Castlemaine Gaol from 7pm to 8:30pm with an information session from 6pm. Please get involved and let the government know your needs for the Bendigo line.