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 is being upgraded by the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority (MMRA) with an aim to increase the number and reliability of services between the capital city’s western outskirts of Melton, Bacchus Marsh, Ballan, and Ballarat.

The upgrade project is a part of the Victorian government’s $1.5bn Regional Rail Revival programme, which is aimed at improving all regional passenger lines in the state.

The Ballarat line upgrade will increase the number of services, especially in morning and afternoon peak times, as well as ensure a service every 40 minutes during off-peak hours.

Construction began on the project in October 2017, with rail duplication works scheduled to commence in 2018. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2019 and create more than 400 jobs during the construction phase.

Ballarat line upgrade project details

The project involves the duplication of the 18km track between Deer Park West and Melton, which will facilitate future electrification to Melton. Another 3km of track duplication will take place east of the Warrenheip Junction.

The project also includes upgrades to the Rockbank station, which involves platform extensions, the addition of a new pedestrian link between platforms, and the construction of a new car park.

“The Ballarat line upgrade will and ensure a service every 40 minutes during off-peak hours.”

New platforms will also be 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, will be 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 will be created, while removing the Bungaree loop and five level crossings.

Stage two of the project has also been proposed, which 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 will benefit everyday commuters with extra services during peak times, as well as make sure enough services are available during the off-peak period.

By creating new passing loops, the upgrade reduces unexpected delays as there will be more ways for trains to pass each other.

“The project will also improve safety for motorists and other residents by removing five level crossings.”

The project will also improve safety for motorists and other residents by removing five level crossings, which will take place as part of the Bungaree loop decommissioning.

The upgrade will facilitate future electrification of Ballarat line to Melton, making it a new metropolitan train line in the city.

Financing for the upgrade project

The estimated investment for the project is $518m. The Victorian government secured Commonwealth funding of $1.5bn for the Regional Rail Revival programme, $516.6m of which was allocated for the Ballarat Line upgrade project. An additional $39m has also been allocated for stage two of the project.

Contractors involved

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.