Work has started to duplicate the train line between Deer Park and Melton in Melbourne as part of a project to transform the Ballarat corridor to ease the load on western metro rail services.

As part of the $518 million Ballarat Line upgrade, the works will duplicate around one kilometre of rail to boost the reliability of services for local passengers ahead of the upgrade.

“The Andrews Labor Government’s transformation of the Ballarat corridor will deliver more frequent, reliable services to Melbourne’s west, Melton and communities right along the Ballarat line,” Victorian Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan said.

The work has been brought forward to coincide with construction of the new Caroline Springs station to improve public transport in Melbourne’s growing western suburbs.

While construction crews are on site, they will duplicate the line between Christies Road and the new station, and install new signalling.

“The second track to Melton will create space for more trains through Rockbank, Deer Park and the new station we are building at Caroline Springs, and pave the way for electrification of the line in the future,” Victorian Member for Melton Don Nardella said.

This first section of double-track will open at the same time as the new Caroline Springs station in early 2017.

The upgrade of the Ballarat line will also start in 2017 and will duplicate the line all the way to Melton, as well as a three kilometre section of single track west of Warrenheip.

Three extra crossing loops will also be built as part of the project – at Bacchus Marsh, Ballan and near Bungaree.

These additional loops will provide more points for trains to pass each other, which will help services recover from unexpected delays more quickly, boosting reliability and punctuality.

“Over the next few years we’ll duplicate the track, build new passing loops and upgrade stations to make it easier to get to work, school and appointments, and home safer and sooner at the end of the day,” Ms Allan said.

These services will be bolstered by the Victorian Government’s $280 million investment in 27 new V/Locity carriages, which will create space for 2000 extra passengers across the regional network.

New stabling facilities will be built at Melton and Rowsley to house the extra carriages needed and second platforms will be built at Bacchus Marsh and Ballan stations.

The existing platforms at Rockbank station will also be extended so passengers can use each carriage to get on or off the train, and a sealed car park will also be built on the south-side of the station.

“Duplicating the Ballarat line to Melton has been talked about for decades. The time for talk is over, work is underway – we’re getting it done,” Mr Nardella said.

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