THE state government has scheduled new weekday passenger rail services for the Ararat-Ballarat line, including a train that arrives in Melbourne before 9am.
The Ararat line will receive 19 additional weekly V/Line services, including an extra weekday morning train that will form a service to Melbourne at Ballarat, and a weekday afternoon service from Southern Cross to Wendouree extending to Ararat.
The new services will start on August 27 and the timings of coaches and buses that connect with trains will be adjusted.
Ararat Rural City Mayor Paul Hooper said the new timetable was welcome news after years of lobbying for more services.
“It’s a case of use it or lose it, but I’m sure patronage will increase once the new services are in place,” he said.
“It has been three years of hard work to get here.
“We’ve had help from our neighbours and other municipalities, and I’d like to acknowledge and thank them, and say thanks to Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan.”
Cr Hooper said the council had fought for the new early morning and afternoon services in particular.
“The 6.18am train leaving Ararat and arriving in Melbourne before 9am is the one we were pushing for,” he said.
Cr Hooper acknowledged that the new timetable might not have train services to suit every commuter.
“Where we will be next month is not where we will finish,” he said.
“As more passengers use the new services, we will be in a better position to lobby for even more services.”
Passengers can collect printed timetables from stations and plan their trip using the Plan a Journey tool on the V/Line website from Thursday.