Rail passing loop construction to begin in 2015

Loop: A new passing loop at Rowsley is expected to cut the number of train delays between Ballarat and Sunshine.CONSTRUCTION of the Rowsley rail passing loop will not begin until 2015.

While work will begin on the Ballan Train Station car park upgrade before the end of the year, the passing loop will be made a second stage of the $14.3 million project.

The passing loop is seen a being one part of critical infrastructure to cut down the number of train delays between Ballarat and Sunshine.

Due to the single-track nature of the majority of the journey from Ballarat to Melbourne, trains are often forced to wait in the passing loops for other trains to pass.

Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said the loop would help to improve punctuality and reliability.

“Preliminary design work is well under way on the Ballan station car park upgrade and Rowsley crossing loop,” he said.

“The project is now in the final stages of planning.

“Public Transport Victoria is also completing additional environmental assessment surveys for the Rowsley crossing loop’s alignment.”

Mr Mulder did not respond to questions asking if the loop would help to increase the capacity for the line to add extra services in the future.

V/Line recently published its latest annual report, which was tabled in parliament on September 17.

The report showed a decline in patronage for the 2013-14 financial year, following steady growth in numbers over the past few years.

“While patronage numbers increased on the Geelong, Seymour and Gippsland lines, there was a drop on the Ballarat and Bendigo lines,” V/Line spokeswoman Ebony Jordan said.

“The decline is a result of the line closures during major Regional Rail Link track works and the extension of electrification to Sunbury, with customers now travelling on Metro trains.”

Works were also conducted over the past 12 months between Ballarat and Sunshine to help improve the speed at which trains travel.

The works coincided with Regional Rail Link works and included the replacement of wooden sleepers with concrete sleepers at the Ballarat Railway Station and stabling yard, the removal of mud holes, resurfacing and re-aligning of the track between Rockbank and Ballarat, and the reconstruction of track formation at Ballan.

Ms Jordan said speed restrictions were removed in two places along the line as a result of those works.

She said one speed limit increased from 120km/h to 160km/h and the other increased from 80 km/h to 160km/h.

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