Two of Melbourne’s busiest railway lines will shut down for seven days in January due to network upgrades, the state government announced today.

From January 2 to January 9, buses will replace trains between Flinders Street and Westall on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line, and Flinders Street and Moorabbin on the Frankston line.

Buses will also replace trains between Caulfield and Dandenong from January 10 to January 17, as well as between Westall and Dandenong for two weeks in February. Gippsland V/Line services will also be affected.

The closures are expected to add between 40 to 75 minutes of extra travel time for some commuters, but will allow upgrades to signalling, power and communications elements of the rail network ahead of the introduction of 65 new high-capacity trains in early-2019.

Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan described the upgrades as “the biggest investment in better trains services for Melbourne’s south east in a generation” in a statement, promising they will ease congestion and boost road safety.

All nine level crossings between Caulfield and Dandenong will be removed by the end of 2018.

Unfortunately, the Cranbourne-Pakenham line is the city’s busiest – ferrying more than 90,000 passengers every weekday.

On an average day 150,000 passengers travel within Flinders Street and Moorabbin stations, although crowds will be significantly less during the summer.

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