Travel in Victoria comes with a few options, from bus to car and of course, the train. This post looks into that train option exploring the VLine network which connects much of the Australia state of Victoria.
Hi folks. Today it’s another Australia-themed post for a Monday, as I am wont to do once a week. This year, for work I’ve taken a couple of trains outside Melbourne. I haven’t gone all that far to be fair – my longest trip was around 90 minutes to Trafalgar, but I must confess that I haven’t used VLINE much in my life.
Last year I was to take a VLINE train from Bendigo back to Melbourne, but that service was replaced by a bus sadly. The thing is right now Melbourne and also in Greater Victoria, there is a huge push to renew, replace and repair infrastructure, especially on the networks. It’s made getting around the city tough, it seems like more cars on the roads and the replacement bus services just can’t do the journeys as quickly. Plus you can easily get caught unawares as they shut lines down for random weekends here and there, and other lines for a month or more at a time. It’s well over due, and clearly needed so I don’t want to complain too much here.
And that’s because there was a train derailment in the north of Victoria in February this year, and two people died. Which is an incredibly rare thing in Australia, you don’t hear of train derailments every day, that’s for sure. This was on the Melbourne to Sydney line. It’s not a fast train, and when you can get to Sydney in a little over an hour by plane for very little it’s perhaps surprising that they still run this train.
It’s a little under 900km in distance, so if we had a superfast train and the tracks it could conceivably be done in under four hours I guess. When you consider Melbourne Airport is a hike from town, and the time added to get to/from the city centres four hours would be fine, because it’s one train. But I digress.
VLINE is the train service that operates throughout the state of Victoria. Lines obviously centre around Melbourne in the middle/south of the state. They reach out north towards Sydney, east and west towards Adelaide. Considering the size of the state and the population which is outside the urban area of Melbourne, I think it’s actually a network which really gets you places.
Trains are not going to be as frequent as places like Europe, because the volume of passengers doesn’t exist. Australia also is a country built on roads rather than rail. But to see that you can get from Melbourne to all manner of towns – Echuca, Mildura, Wodonga, Traralgon, in fact researching the network, I am suitably impressed!
I don’t think that they are that expensive. Melbourne to Geelong for instance is an hour’s trip but you can use the Myki card which is the card you use to get around Melbourne on the Metro trains, trams and buses. You can use this card on a number of lines – including to Traralgon and I think Bendigo, which is great. I’m pretty sure return to Geelong on the weekend, full fare, was around $15AUD (it’s hard to tell exactly because the card balances can alter overnight).
If I have a negative it’s that the fare structure is set out like a city fare structure, with zones. It depends from which zone you start and finish, and then the length of time your trip is. There is a fare break down on this page – https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/tickets/fares/regional-fares/ you will need to compare it to this map to unravel the costs I guess. However, if you scroll down the page you will find the ‘paper ticket fares’ and the most expensive one way ticket is $45AUD to Swan Hill, which isn’t too bad at all. (Around $30US)
The trains are often quite short – ie only three carriages as I found on the Traralgon line. On the Geelong/Waurn Ponds Line, they were six carriages. And the trains are comfortable. They are not the world’s greatest trains, but they seemed clean and have enough space. And if it fills up I don’t think there’s a problem standing. People immediately fill the window seats, and there were a lot of single travellers on the Geelong train, so getting two seats together was a bit of challenge. No classes and no reservation for the Geelong and Traralgon line. You can get a reserved seat on the longer journeys – at least the ones to Sydney I should say. Some trains have seats with table trays, some do not. The toilets are large – for use by people with a disability I guess. When I used the toilet, it was pretty clean.
So there you have it – traveling Victoria with VLine. Not a bad option all said. I must try out a few longer journeys over the next couple of years. Maybe I’ll try a couple of days off to Mildura later in the year? Thanks for reading today – please comment if the mood takes you – May the Journey Never End!