The $3.65 billion RRL opened on 21 June 2015. The project involved construction of additional tracks between Southern Cross Station and West Werribee, two new stations at Wyndham Vale and Tarneit, upgrades to Footscray, West Footscray and Sunshine stations, and signalling upgrades along the whole corridor.
The main aim of the project was to separate regional V/Line services to Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong from Melbourne’s electrified suburban network, thereby increasing rail capacity and reliability. The project was delivered ahead of time and under budget, although there were several scope and budget revisions after the initial announcement of the project in 2009.
The project was expected to provide a range of community, economic, environmental and transport benefits. Early positive outcomes from the project include 342 extra regional train services each week between Melbourne and Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo. As a result, the number of passengers on the regional rail network has grown by 20 per cent—it now carries more passengers than at any point in its history.
Some issues emerged shortly after the RRL project opened, with passengers raising concerns about reliability, overcrowding and irregular spacing of services—particularly in Wyndham Vale and Tarneit. In January 2016, regional services were also disrupted when V/Line’s VLocity trains experienced higher-than-normal wheel wear, largely due to tight curves in the track design and lubrication practices on some sections of the RRL.