The Victorian Government has announced a $1.45 billion package of regional rail upgrades aimed to improve services and create over 1000 jobs across Victoria.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan unveiled the Regional Rail Revival package, which includes upgrades on every regional line across Victoria, as part of the Victorian Budget 2017/2018.
The upgrades are the next stage of the biggest ever investment in regional rail – with the Labor Government now having committed more than $2.8 billion to improve regional rail services.
Mr Andrews said, “This is the next stage of our regional rail revival – because regional Victorians deserve public transport they can count on.
“This huge investment will improve services on every regional passenger line in Victoria, and create more than a thousand jobs across Victoria.”
Ms Allan said, “Regional Rail Revival will deliver better tracks, more services and a brighter future for the rail network regional Victorians rely on.”
The centrepiece of the package is a $435 million upgrade of the Gippsland Line to run more frequent, safe and reliable services and create more than 400 jobs, with a project office in the Latrobe Valley.
More than $200 million will go towards major upgrades in the Barwon South West region – including $100 million to upgrade the Warrnambool line to run more services.
$110 million will fund the first stage of a massive new Surf Coast Rail Project, which will prepare the corridor for duplication between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds, and reserve land for a future line to Torquay.
Passengers in Bendigo and Echuca will also benefit, with $91 million in upgrades to run faster trains, an extra daily service to Echuca, and delivery of Bendigo Metro Stage 2 with more services to Epsom and Eaglehawk.
Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said, “This is the next step in our record investment in public transport, to get people in Bendigo and across Victoria home safer and sooner.”
In addition to the $518 million Ballarat Line Upgrade announced in the 2016 Budget, the package will provide $39 million for Stage 2 of the project, to deliver better services for Ararat and Maryborough.
The Regional Rail Revival package also funds the signalling and station improvements needed to run new trains on the North East Line, while the Labor Government continues to lobby the Commonwealth to fix the track they are responsible for through the Inland Rail project.
$95 million will be invested in Stage 2 of the Gippsland Rail Upgrade which will duplicate the Avon River Bridge, enabling faster, more reliable services to Bairnsdale.
The full Regional Rail Revival package, which includes the Ballarat Line Upgrade, is to be funded from the receipt of Victoria’s $1.46 billion entitlement under the Asset Recycling Initiative.