Could cheaper train fares prompt a Melbourne exodus?

The capping of train fares across Victoria could fundamentally shift migration patterns in the state, according to a financial expert.

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On 31 March 2023, regional fare caps came into place across Victoria, aimed at “transforming the way Victorians travel across the state”.

Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll have flagged that the cost of a daily ticket on the entire regional Victorian network is now capped at $9.20 for full-fare riders or $4.60 for a concession.

On weekends, daily full fares will be capped at just $6.70.

This could save passengers travelling long distances on the V/Line “more than $40 for each and every one-way journey on the regional public transport network.”


The fare cap applies to all PTV regional buses, town buses and V/Line trains and coaches.

Border communities will also benefit, with the cap applicable to interstate travel within 60 kilometres of the Victorian border, set to assist those living and commuting across the NSW and South Australian borders, and including the towns of Albury, Merimbula, Deniliquin and Mt Gambier.

According to the government statement announcing the change, it means “more money in regional Victorians’ pockets and more opportunities for families in Melbourne and visitors to the state to explore everything Victoria has to offer.”

“It also ensures families living in rural and regional Victoria can visit loved ones, and access health and education services in other regional cities and in Melbourne.”

With increased affordability, there are expectations that this may further spur tree changes across the state, as flagged by Great Southern Bank chief customer officer Megan Keleher.

According to Ms Keleher, the increased affordability of commuting to Melbourne from regional Victoria “could entice home buyers to consider buying properties outside of the city.”

And with schemes such as the Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee making the idea of a tree change even more achievable — thanks to it being a more affordable proposition — migration out of the city of Melbourne may increase.

Already, more than 2,000 first home buyers have made use of the grant since its inception, with Ms Keleher professing that “the Victorian government’s reduction to V/Line fares may provide an added incentive for those living or considering living in regional areas for affordability reasons.”

She acknowledged that the bank often sees first home buyers looking to the outer suburbs or regional areas for more affordable housing options.

“We hope the reduction in V/Line fare costs, coupled with the other state and federal government initiatives available for first home buyers, will ultimately combine to help more Victorians begin their home ownership journey,” Ms Keleher commented.

“It’s important when choosing where to live that home buyers also think about the additional costs they need to factor in, including commuting.”

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