THE Mernda Rail extension, complete with three new stations, opened for passengers last Sunday — six months ahead of schedule.

The $600 million rail extension with three new stations at Mernda, Hawkstowe and Middle Gorge will make it easier for local families to travel.

The new line is the result of almost 18 months of construction work along the rail corridor that has seen around 1,200 construction jobs created and more than 1,800 jobs created in other industries.

More than 100 young apprentices, cadets and trainees have worked on site, many for whom this has been their first role in the industry.

Finishing touches, such as landscaping around the stations, will continue to be made over coming months.

The three new stations are expected to cater for up to 8,000 commuters a day, using 2,000 new car parks to help ease congestion along Plenty Road. New shared walking and cycling paths will connect the stations and provide alternative transport options.

Mernda Station will give passengers access to 982 services to the city every week, with two new and seven realigned bus routes connecting passengers with the three new stations on the Mernda line.