Region - Progress on the state's biggest rail projects will take a major leap forward over summer with construction blitzes, including on the Ballarat line, during the quietest period on the network, Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder has announced.
"Over late December and early January, public transport patronage reduces by up to a half, and doesn't return to normal levels until the end of February," Mr Mulder said.
"Completing works over this quieter period will help to minimise the effect on rail passengers while making significant progress in a short time. It reduces the number of weekend closures and ultimately means faster delivery of better rail services."
The summer works will include the revamping of Footscray and Sunshine stations, the removal of the Anderson Road level crossing on the Ballarat line, and the reconfiguration of the 'flyover' tracks leading into Southern Cross station platforms 1 to 8.
Mr Mulder said that public transport timetable changes over December and January would accommodate the construction works and ensure Victorians can get where they need to go while work is underway.
"Although late December and January are the lowest patronage period on our rail network, we know that public transport is a key part of many people's summer, taking them to and from major events like the New Year's Eve fireworks, the tennis and the cricket."
During construction works, buses and coaches will ensure passengers can continue with their travel plans on sections of the Ballarat, Bendigo, Sunbury, Seymour, Albury, Shepparton and Belgrave/Lilydale train lines.
"On Christmas Day, public transport will be free across the state.
"On New Year's Eve, metropolitan trains, trams and NightRider will run all night and public transport across Victoria will be free from 6pm until the first normal scheduled service on New Year's Day. V/Line customers will also have free travel on the first V/Line service departing Melbourne on New Year's Day.
Mr Mulder encouraged passengers to plan ahead and check their timetable before travelling during December and January.
"With different timetables operating across much of the public transport network during December and January, I would encourage passengers to plan ahead and check their timetable before travelling," Mr Mulder said.
Key train timetable changes during December and January will include services on the Ballarat/Bendigo lines, from December 28 to January 19, with coaches replacing all services.
Summer works timetables will be available in advance at www.ptv.vic.gov.au