Ballarat Line is a regional rail network operating between Melbourne and the Ballarat city in Victoria, Australia. It became the second busiest line in Victoria, carrying 3.79 million passengers during 2015-2016.
The line was upgraded by the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority (MMRA) offering 135 additional weekly services along the Ballarat Line and reliable services between the capital city’s western outskirts of Melton, Bacchus Marsh, Ballan, and Ballarat.
It ensures a service every 20 minutes during peak hours and every 40 minutes during off-peak hours.
The upgrade project was completed as a part of the Victorian government’s Regional Rail Revival programme, which aims to improve all regional passenger lines in the state.
Construction began on the project in October 2017, with rail duplication works commenced in early-2018. Completed in January 2021, the line upgrade created approximately 400 jobs.
Ballarat Line upgrade project details
The project involved the duplication of the 18km track between Deer Park West and Melton, which facilitates future electrification to Melton. Another 3km of track east of the Warrenheip Junction was also duplicated.
The project also included rebuilding of Rockbank station, which involved platform extensions, the addition of a new pedestrian link between platforms, and the construction of a new car park with 350 spaces.
New platforms and 100 new car park spaces were also added at the Bacchus Marsh and Ballan stations along with new pedestrian links between the platforms.
Existing stabling facilities at Bachhus Marsh, which are located close to the homes, was removed and relocated to Maddingley, providing a quieter atmosphere for the residents.
A new 5km passing loop at Ballan and a 4km passing loop at Millbrook were created while removing the Bungaree loop and five level crossings.
The proposed stage two of the project will involve the upgrade of the line from Ararat to Maryborough. Works will include stabling facilities at Ararat, and signalling and track improvements to increase passenger and freight movements.
Benefits of Ballarat Line upgrade
The Ballarat Line upgrade benefits everyday commuters with extra services during peak times, as well as make sure enough services are available during the off-peak period.
The upgrade created new passing loops that reduce unexpected delays as there are more ways for trains to pass each other.
The project also improved safety for motorists and other residents by removing five level crossings, which took place as part of the Bungaree loop decommissioning.
The upgrade facilitates future electrification of Ballarat Line to Melton, making it a new metropolitan train line in the city.
Financing for the upgrade project
The project involved an estimated investment of A$601m ($459m). The Victorian government secured Commonwealth funding of A$4bn ($3bn) for the Regional Rail Revival programme, of which A$503m ($384m) was allocated for the Ballarat Line upgrade project. The remaining funding required for the project was sourced by the Victorian government.
A consortium comprising Lendlease Engineering, Coleman Rail and SMEC Australia was selected to develop detailed design and construction planning for the upgrade, in July 2017.
The consortium was awarded a $551.7m contract for the upgrade project in December 2017.