GIPPSLAND V/Line passengers will have express and semi-express coaches this winter.
Select express coaches will run to Parliament Station via the Eastern Freeway, providing significant travel time savings for passengers.
Coaches will replace trains for all or part of the journey on the Gippsland line between May 30 and June 17, as a major construction blitz removes the last four level crossings on the Caulfield-Dandenong corridor.
Trains will continue to operate between Traralgon and Pakenham, connecting with coaches between Pakenham and Melbourne via the Monash Freeway.
Express and semi-express coaches will be offered to passengers from Bairnsdale, Sale, Rosedale and Stratford, while stopping all stations coaches will also be provided.
The state government will again offer express coach services between Warragul, Drouin and Parliament, with three services in the morning peak and four services in the evening peak.
The free Wi-Fi service on these express rail replacement coach services will continue during this time.
Coaches will also replace trains on the Gippsland line for all or part of the journey all day this weekend as well as some evening services tonight, Tuesday and from June 18 to 21.
Rail replacement coaches are expected to benefit from improved travel times following the opening of additional lanes on the Monash Freeway.
The government will also provide a monthly newsletter regarding activity on the corridor.
State Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said while understanding services disruptions were frustrating, the works had to be done to give Gippslanders reliable public transport.
“We’re building the tracks, buying the trains and delivering the extra services needed to keep more and more people moving across our city and regions,” she said.
Eastern Victoria MLC Harriet Shing said the government was determined to improve the amenity and service for Gippsland passengers while disruptions from metropolitan works were occurring.
“Along with additional express coaches, we are also providing more advance travel notice for Gippsland passengers through bulletins and regular updates about changes on the network,” she said.
V/Line passengers are urged to plan ahead and allow more time to complete their journey, with longer journey times of 60 minutes expected off peak and up to 90 minutes in the peak.
Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull said Ms Allan’s words in relation to the Gippsland line had no substance.
“The Liberal Nationals have committed to a $630 million to replace all the long haul carriages in Victoria, including those that come to Bairnsdale, and the Labor Party has not matched this, preferring to remain silent,” he said.
“The minister has also not provided any timeline for the Stratford bridge completion despite repeated requests, even with the state having received the money to do the project from the federal government.”