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By Kyra Gillespie

In a bid to ease approaching train pain for south east commuters, the State Government has announced it will gift free public transport travel for passengers on the Pakenham, Cranbourne and Gippsland lines in the lead up to Christmas.

Buses will replace trains on sections of the Cranbourne, Pakenham and Gippsland lines for the first three weeks of December.

The works are part of ongoing preparations for the new fleet of high capacity metro trains, which will be able to carry 20 per cent more passengers than any train currently running on the network.

Those hit the hardest by disruption will be Cranbourne line commuters, who will see 27 days of bus replacement services on sections of the line.Buses will also replace trains on parts of the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines, and the entire Gippsland line will be closed in that same time frame.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the free travel within those three weeks is the Government’s way of ‘thanking’ commuters who have already endured over 100 days of disrupted travel this year.

“We’ve not done this before but because there’s been so much construction and related disruption this year and the last four years, we think it’s the appropriate way to say thank you to the Victorian community,” he said.

“We said we’d build the world-class transport network Victoria needs with bigger and longer trains, better roads and turn-up-and-go services – and we’re getting it done.

“We thank people for their patience as we get on with delivering these vital upgrades to get Victorians where they need to go safer and sooner.”

Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan confirmed to The Age that this would cost taxpayers $1 million.

“It will be dictated by passenger demand during the period of the disruptions, and will probably be around $1 million during that period. The budget has been made available for this,” she said.

There will also be some shorter line closures in the lead up to the December construction blitz across the metropolitan rail network.

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