PASSENGERS on the Warrnambool to Melbourne train service now have special platforms at Southern Cross station as part of a $4.8 billion project to build dedicated links into the metropolitan system for rural lines.
It enables trains from Geelong to travel unhindered from South Kensington to the Melbourne termination rather than having to queue behind metropolitan services at North Melbourne.
Further work on the project will continue to 2016, when there will be dedicated V/Line tracks to Werribee West linking with the Geelong line.
But in the next few weeks from December 28 to January 19 passengers on the Warrnambool service will have to change trains at Geelong because of track works.
Transport Minister Terry Mulder, who travelled on the first Geelong line train to arrive at the new Southern Cross platforms on Sunday, said the regional rail link project was on budget and ahead of schedule.
“Regional Rail Link will eventually provide V/Line tracks all the way to Werribee West, en route to Geelong and Warrnambool,” he said.
V/Line’s chief executive Theo Taifalos said removing the inner suburban bottleneck with dedicated tracks for country trains in and out of Southern Cross station would increase train reliability.
“Most but not all Geelong trains will use platforms 15 or 16 at Southern Cross,” he said.