Agreed, but there’s not much to be done – that’ll take the RRL up to what, 18tph? Not sure it can handle much more than that without total collapse.
Currently, in the afternoon peak, for all 3 lines that use the RRL (Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo) there are a total of 14 trains per hour (1600 - 1659), then 16 trains per hour (1700 - 1759). This dramatically drops off after 6pm to 7 trains per hour (1800 - 1859).
On the Ballarat line for instance, the PM peak direction timetable is as follows:
1610 Bacchus Marsh
1633 Wendouree/ Maryborough
1719 Bacchus Marsh
1735 Bacchus Marsh
1759 Bacchus Marsh
What is this? 1998? PM peak hour pretty much runs from 3pm to 7pm now. Anybody want to see the sardine express? Just try and catch the 1917 to Wendouree. Typically the platform at Southern Cross is packed for that train before it even arrives, forget about trying to get a seat, just getting on it is good enough.
A 1725 Wendouree wouldn't go astray, neither would another Bacchus Marsh local at about 1840. And that is just for a start.
Also, running the 1537 Melton every day as it's supposed to would help a bit too, it is among the most cancelled trains on the V/Line network, often cancelled as many as 10 days per month. In fact, this itself highlights another problem. There are too many days that services are cancelled or scaled back to just a single 3 car Vlocity unit instead of the usual 2 putting more and more stress on the already strained services. So maybe there is still a rollingstock shortage even though V/Line have more trains at their disposal than ever.
That said, in my opinion with reliability put aside, the biggest issues are not actually the peak period, but either side of the peak period, late nights and the weekends. Here the timetable has hardly changed since the RFR opened.
I agree with more trains on the Ballarat line and the one token extra is just the start...most likely, conveniently before the next election there will be a total revamp of the Ballarat timetable with additional express services on weekends etc.
At this time there are the occasional 'big game' football specials that operate to bank up the existing timetable. But for now...it's stopping all stations at off peak times and weekends.
The next election is another 3 years away. At the current and projected rate of land development between Caroline Springs and Bacchus Marsh, that is just too far to wait for a major timetable overhaul. The Western Freeway is already getting choked up most days, without the railway picking up the slack, the outer west is going to be a miserable place to live.
An even mix of Ballarat express and Bacchus Marsh/ Melton locals need to be an all day every day thing. Melton needs to be treated more like a metro service, even if V/Line are running it. The same goes for Wyndham Vale by the way. Don't bother with just running the odd extra footy train, just run more trains all the time.
Don't think it is viable? Just take the weekday inter-peak Bacchus Marsh locals now, they are getting healthy loadings all day, and are getting more popular all the time. Same as the 20 minute intervals on the Geelong line.
Build it and they will come, in fact they are screaming for it.
I get that currently the single line running severely limits how many trains can run (which is why there is also a 2 hour gap between services towards Melbourne in the afternoon), my point is that at least as far as Melton, that will no longer be an issue and I suppose I was hoping for a bit more than just the 1 extra peak service.