Thousands of excited locals and curious train enthusiasts descended upon South Morang and Mernda yesterday, for a ‘sneak peek’ at three new stations and to ride a shuttle train along the new Mernda line.
The event was the first chance for the community to see and look around their new stations at Middle Gorge, Hawkstowe and Mernda, and be among the first people to ride the Mernda extension.
Stallholders, including Whittlesea Lions Club, Costa Mushrooms, Two Beans and a Farm, Turners Bakehouse, and Farm Vigano served up local produce and children were kept busy with a smoothie bikes and roaming entertainers.
Some visitors on the day had more than just a passing interest in local history, with several long-time residents of Mernda attending the opening event. Many remember the days of the former Whittlesea line, when you could hail the train at a ‘stopping place’ positioned along the line, like a bus stop nowadays.
The new Mernda Station will give passengers access to 982 services to the city every week, with two new and seven realigned bus routes connecting passengers to the three new stations on the Mernda line.
The three new stations are expected to cater for up to 8000 commuters a day, helping to ease congestion along Plenty Road. New shared walking and cycling paths will connect the stations and provide alternative transport options.
Culminating in the weekend’s opening event, the project has seen nearly 18 months of activity along the rail corridor. Finishing works, such as landscaping around the new stations, will be the final touch.
The first trains will run from Mernda to the city in the early hours of Sunday 26 August.
- Around 6,000 visitors turned out for the event
- More than 50 local traders, community groups and schools provided the event festivities
- More than 60 project staff from John Holland, LXRA and MTM worked tirelessly yesterday to support the event
- 200kgs of sausages, 1,500 slices of pizza, 1,000 donuts and more than 2,000 coffees kept the crowds fed and watered