MORE services for the regional Seymour and metropolitan Mernda train lines are on the horizon, despite not being announced as part of a State Government boost to services across the state.
The government last week announced an extra 450 train services would operate each week from January 31 as part of a major timetable overhaul aimed at boosting public transport capacity.
The services will be split across Victoria’s metropolitan and regional train networks.
The metropolitan Cranbourne, Pakenham, Frankston, Werribee, Williamstown, Upfield, Craigieburn and Sunbury lines will have an extra 280 weekly services between them, while the regional Ballarat, Geelong, Bendigo and Traralgon lines will share 170 extra services.
Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll said the timetable update would take advantage of recent government transport infrastructure upgrades.
While there will be no change to the Seymour and Mernda lines in January’s timetable update, both are set to receive a service boost after upgrade works on those lines are completed.
After upgrades to the Shepparton train line are complete, new V/Line VLocity trains will be able to use the line and the government is expected to fund nine daily return services. Currently there are only five return services direct to Shepparton each day.
More services for the Mernda line are also waiting on upgrades to the Hurstbridge line. Once the Hurstbridge line works are complete, the government is expected to fund additional services for Mernda.
Mr Carroll said the new services would allow more Victorians to use public transport by reducing crowding.
He said more services would provide more space for physical distancing and encourage passengers to stagger weekday travel, in line with recommended COVID-19 measures.
As an additional incentive for metropolitan passengers to travel during quieter times and physically distance, off-peak fares will be discounted for three months.
From January 31, anyone using myki money between 9.30am and 4pm or after 7pm on weekdays will receive a 30 per cent discount.
“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,” he said.
Mr Carroll said the updated timetables would also pave the way for the integration of the Metro Tunnel rail project into Melbourne’s public transport system.
People who rely on local bus services to access trains will see new timetables to keep up with train connections.
Cleaning of all trains, trams, buses, stations and myki facilities will continue across the network and hand sanitising facilities will be introduced at key stations to encourage COVID-19 safety.
Mr Carroll said people should always wear a mask when on public transport, never travel when unwell, practise good hygiene and physically distance from others wherever possible.
The new timetables will be available at ptv.vic.gov.au from January 8.