By Kate Taylor
A park-and-ride station could be built at Leigh Creek, Gordon, or Bungaree.
The possibility was raised at the recent meeting of the Ballarat Rail Advocacy Committee (BRAC), of which Moorabool Shire Council is a member.
BRAC members discussed the short, medium and long-term future of the Melbourne-Ballarat-Ararat rail line, with representatives from fellow councils Brimbank, Ararat, Ballarat, Melton, and Pyrenees.
The Committee focused on unmet community needs and the critical social and economic drivers for further rail investment and considered additional works that need to be undertaken urgently once the current upgrade project is completed – including the electrification of the line between Sunshine and Melton (and potentially, Bacchus Marsh), and track quadruplication to separate stopping and express services.
Other items discussed included the need to eliminate several dangerous level crossings, the need for longer trains with more seats to ease overcrowding on peak period services, progressive duplication of the line to Ballarat, more express services, improved feeder bus services and the perennial problem of inadequate commuter car parking at stations.
Moorabool Shire Council Mayor David Edwards, who attended the forum, said that working collaboratively towards a common goal is critical for local communities to be heard at a State level.
“Moorabool Shire Council sees great benefit in the BRAC, and looks forward to working with the other Councils to improve journey times and capacity along the Ballarat Line,” Mayor Edwards said.
“Of course, it’s important, that at least the current levels of service available to residents using the service at Bacchus Marsh and Ballan are maintained throughout the collaboration process.”
Mayor Edwards told the Moorabool News that also on the agenda is an additional train station, on the outskirts of Ballarat and in Moorabool, that will help meet growth in commuter numbers.
“One of the things we will investigate is a park-and-drive, that might be at Leigh Creek, it might be at Bungaree, it might be at Gordon or somewhere else – we haven’t made any decisions yet.
“There’s a lot more work to do, but we do know that we need to duplicate the line all the way to Ballarat, and we need the four lines between Sunshine and Melton.”
Park-and-ride stations allow the government to buy larger parcels of land in areas where prices are lower than cities, with the larger pieces of land used for car parking for commuters.