Public transport advocate Ben Lever suggested a possible location for the new Ballarat train station.
Given the potential for Mars Stadium to host athletic events at the Commonwealth 2026 Games, we are once again focusing on how we can get spectators to the venue by public transportation.
A V / Line service station would be a great way to achieve this.
However, if we plan to build a station that will bring people to the venue, we need to think about how that station would serve the community when the games are over.
It’s great to get AFL games a few times a year, but that alone isn’t enough – we need a station that will operate for the Ballaratians 365 days a year.
Setting up a station across Creswick Road from the stadium, on the Maryborough line, is problematic for several reasons.
There is a stadium nearby, but very little else that would attract passengers – it is surrounded by a quarry, a golf course and low-density industrial land.
Most people will walk up to 1 km to the train station, but there are not many apartments within 1 km of this city.
Also operationally, this is a big headache.
If we have Wendouree station on the Ararat line and this new station on the Maryborough line, that means half the trains that arrive at Ballarat station have to go one way and half the other.
This means that both stations would get half the frequency, which means 80 minutes of waiting between trains.
Many people would instead opt to drive to Ballarat Station to take advantage of its higher frequencies, which means more pressure on downtown parking lots.
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By contrast, the station south of the stadium on the Ararat line – somewhere near Burnbank Street – would still be very well positioned to supply the stadium, comparable to walking from Richmond Station to the MCG.
However, it would also have many apartments within reach and would even serve the east end of the retail lane of Howitt Street.
We would also avoid these operational problems – it could be supplied by each individual train without reducing the Wendouree frequency.
The station on the Ararat line might be a bit more expensive and technically demanding to build, but it would be exponentially more usable in the coming decades.
And when we think about the legacy of the Commonwealth Games investment in Ballarat, we really need to think long-term.
Ben Lever is the head of the Ballarat branch of the Public Transport Users Association