Ballarat V/Line rail service

The Ballarat V/Line rail service is a regional passenger rail service operated by V/Line in Victoria, Australia. It serves passengers between state capital Melbourne and the regional city of Ballarat. Beyond Ballarat it changes name to the Ararat railway line and the Maryborough railway line.

Ballarat Line
A VLocity DMU arrives at Ballarat station on a service from Melbourne.
Service typePassenger service
Current operator(s)V/Line
Former operator(s)Victorian Railways
Annual ridership4.33 million (2016−17)[1]
WebsiteV/Line Ballarat on Twitter
StartSouthern Cross railway station, Melbourne
EndWendouree railway station
Distance travelled123 km (76 mi)[2]
On-board services
Rolling stock
Track gauge1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)
Operating speed160 km/h (99 mph) maximum[4]
Track owner(s)VicTrack
Ararat Line
A VLocity service terminates at Ararat station
Service typeLong-distance (paper ticket) service
LocaleVictoria, Australia
StartSouthern Cross railway station, Melbourne
EndArarat railway station
Distance travelled211 km (131 mi)[5]
Average journey time2h 20min (approx)
Service frequency4 weekday return services
On-board services
Rolling stockVLocity[6]

The Ballarat service is the second busiest service in Victoria (behind Geelong) carrying 3.17 million passengers in the 12 months ended 30 June 2014.[7]


V/Line once operated services to Horsham and Dimboola. Several rail stations such as Gordon and Warrenheip were closed in October 1981 as part of the New Deal timetable. All services beyond Ballarat were withdrawn on 27 May 1994,[8] and in 1995 the One Nation Program regauged the line beyond Ararat. The broad-gauge line between Ballarat and Ararat was closed to all traffic, with the broad-gauge passenger service from Ballarat to Ararat not reinstated until 2004 under the Linking Victoria program.

In November 2004, Premier of Victoria Steve Bracks announced that the line would be renamed the Eureka Line to mark the 150th anniversary of the Eureka uprising. Due to take effect from late 2005 at the same time as the renaming of Spencer Street station to Southern Cross.[9] The renaming was criticised by groups such as the Public Transport Users Association,[10] and was never carried out.

On 9 May 2009, Wendouree station to the west of Ballarat station opened.[11]

In December 2008, as part of the Victorian Transport Plan, the State Government announced passenger rail services to Maryborough would resume with services commencing on 25 July 2010.[12][13]

By 2009, a total of 48,000 passengers or an average of 1,000 per week were using the line between Ballarat and Ararat.[14]

Construction of the Caroline Springs station, between Deer Park and Rockbank stations, commenced in August 2015 and the station opened on 28 January 2017.[15]

An upgrade of the line is expected to commence in early 2018 with a target completion date of late 2019.[16] The project, with a budget of $518 million, will duplicate 17 kilometres of track between Deer Park West and Melton, upgrade stations at Rockbank, Bacchus Marsh and Ballan, and add a new station at Cobblebank, also adding passing loops at Bacchus Marsh, Ballan and near Bungaree.[17] It will pave the way for the future electrification of the line to Melton. The upgrade will enable extra services in the morning and afternoon peaks between Melbourne and Ballarat.[18]


V/Line operates an average half-hourly passenger services along the line. Half terminate at Bacchus Marsh with every second one continuing through to Wendouree (four of these also extending to Ararat station and two to Maryborough.[19]

Services are operated primarily by V/Line VLocity DMUs, while peak-hour trains to Bacchus Marsh are operated by Sprinter DMUs and H type carriages hauled by N and A locomotives.

To alleviate capacity constraints on the single track section, one Ballarat to Melbourne service in the evening peak is provided by a road coach.[19]

V/Line operates passenger trains on the Ararat line to and from Southern Cross station in Melbourne, as well as three road coach services connecting with buses at Ballarat.[20] Roughly half the number of services run towards Maryborough.

Beyond Ballarat the line is classified by V/Line as an Intercity service, so seat reservations are no longer required. Many services run as limited expresses between Ballarat and Melbourne.

On 16 July 2014, V/Line trains between Melbourne and Ararat ceased stopping at North Melbourne as part of the Regional Rail Link project.

In November 2017, the state government announced Cobblebank station would be built between Rockbank and Melton, with a scheduled 2 December 2019 completion date.[21][22][23][24]


The majority of the line is single track, with the exception of:

  • double track between Melbourne, Sunshine and Caroline Springs. The North line is restricted to 130 km/h operation and the South line to 160 km/h, a remnant of Regional Fast Rail's bidirectional, different-speed signalling.
  • a short crossing loop at Rockbank station
  • a short crossing loop at Melton station
  • Parwan Loop, between Melton and Bacchus Marsh stations, located before the descent into Bacchus Marsh
  • a short crossing loop at Rowsley (completed mid 2016)[25]
  • Bank Box Loop, between Bacchus Marsh and Ballan stations, located atop the Werribee Gorge
  • a long crossing loop near Bungaree, between Ballan and Ballarat. The two tracks take different routes, one being the original line via Bungaree, the other being a new deviation built as part of the Regional Fast Rail project.[26]

Line guide

Bold stations are termini, where some train services terminate; italic stations are staffed, at least part-time:

Ararat V/Line Service
0.0 km
Southern Cross
Zone 1
5.6 km
Zone 1
12.3 km
Zone 1/2
15.1 km
Zone 2
17.9 km
Deer Park
Zone 2
21.2 km
Caroline Springs
Zone 2
30.2 km
Zone 2
41.3 km
Zone 2
52.9 km
Bacchus Marsh
Zone 2
79.5 km
Zone 4
113.8 km
Zone 8
118.1 km
Zone 8
159.8 km
Zone 12
205.8 km
Zone 17
Standard timetabled journey
from Southern Cross


  1. Annual Report 2016-17. V/Line Corporation. June 2017. p. 14. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  2. "Train Operating Data: Deer Park Junction to Ararat". Network service plan. V/Line Corporation. 25 October 2017. p. 4. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  3. "Passenger Schedules: Western Up". Network service plan. V/Line Corporation. 10 December 2017. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  4. "Train Operating Data: Deer Park Junction to Ararat". Network service plan. V/Line Corporation. 25 October 2017. p. 1. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  5. "Train Operating Data: Deer Park Junction to Ararat". Network service plan. V/Line Corporation. 25 October 2017. p. 5. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  6. "Passenger Schedules: South Western Down". Network service plan. V/Line Corporation. 10 December 2017. Archived from the original on 3 February 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  7. Annual Report for year ended 30 June 2014 Archived 2 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine V/Line
  8. - VR Timeline
  9. Eureka Rail Line to Open Exciting new era for Regional Rail Premier of Victoria 25 November 2004
  10. More name changes:Ballarat this time PTUA News Volume 28 Issue 6 December 2004
  11. Ballarat's new train station to officially open ABC News 12 June 2009
  12. Maryborough Rail Services Victorian Transport Plan
  13. Passenger trains return to Maryborough The Courier 25 July 2010
  14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 2010-09-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. "Ballarat Line Upgrade website". Ballarat Line Upgrade. 24 July 2017. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  17. Pollock, Michael (27 April 2016). ""$518m commitment to Ballarat rail line"". The Ballarat Courier. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  18. Pollock, Michael (27 April 2016). "$518m commitment to Ballarat rail line"". The Ballarat Courier. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  19. Ballarat timetable V/Line 26 November 2017
  20. "Ararat line timetable". Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  21. New train station announced in Toolern precinct City of Melton 3 November 2017
  22. New Train Station for Melbourne's Growing West Minister for Public Transport 3 November 2017
  23. Another station coming to Melbourne's west Rail Express 6 November 2017
  24. "Cobblebank Station To Open In Early December". Premier of Victoria. 22 October 2019. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  25. Rowsley Crossing Loop - Public Transport Victoria
  26. Train Operating Data: Deer Park to Ararat V/Line 21 October 2014
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