Revised construction timeframes for the $1.75 billion Regional Rail Revival have been announced, with the first upgrades set to be complete by the end of 2019.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Michael McCormack, and Victorian Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan, announced that work has progressed on the unprecedented four-year program to upgrade every regional rail line in Victoria.

Mr McCormack said this was another great step forward for regional passengers.

“We heard from communities they wanted more certainty on timing of works on every line and we are pleased to provide an update today on the program schedule.

“We look forward to seeing the program benefits, which will deliver huge public transport improvements for Victorian passengers, and deliver more than 1,000 jobs during construction,” Mr McCormack said.

The program includes $80 million to duplicate track and other upgrades around Waurn Ponds Station complementing a future duplication from South Geelong to Waurn Ponds.

These works are part of the $160 million Geelong Line Upgrade, $30 million of which will also support the corridor preservation for a future link to Armstrong Creek.

Separately, the business case for the full duplication of the South Geelong to Waurn Ponds corridor has been submitted to Infrastructure Australia for assessment following the completion of the $4 million South Geelong to Waurn Ponds Planning Project.

Ms Allan said this duplication would remove notorious bottlenecks in this section of track to enable trains to run more often and boost reliability.

“While the business case for the full project is under assessment, we’re getting on with work needed to start duplication at Waurn Ponds Station, to give passengers on regional Victoria’s busiest line the train services they deserve,” Ms Allan said.

Regional Rail Revival will transform public transport for regional Victorians and the benefits will begin to flow as early as later this year, with projects to be progressively completed by 2022.

Ms Allan said consultation with local communities will commence in the coming weeks so that locals can have their say.

“Rail Projects Victoria will start consulting with communities over the coming weeks on the projects they are overseeing, so locals can have their say including on potential job opportunities on the projects,” Ms Allan said.

Target completion dates for each of the projects being delivered by Rail Projects Victoria have been outlined, subject to planning and environmental approvals:

  • Ballarat Line Upgrade well underway, and will be completed by the end of 2019
  • Warrnambool Line Upgrade by late 2020
  • Geelong Line Upgrade by late 2021
  • Gippsland Line Upgrade by late 2022, with the Avon River bridge replaced in early 2021
  • Bendigo Echuca Line Upgrade by early 2021

Mr McCormack said the North East Line Steering Committee and provided in-principle endorsement of the broad scope of works, which will now undergo an independent peer review by Monash University.

“Ahead of the works commencing on the major upgrades, track resurfacing works taking place this month are also progressing well, with more than 50km out of a total 84km of track to be tamped now complete,” Mr McCormack said.

“The $1 million of works, funded by ARTC, is targeting priority areas based on V/Line and ARTC track information. Production rates are ahead of schedule and already providing improved V/Line passenger train performance.”

Ms Allan said the planning and preparation for the major upgrade works is undergoing a thorough process to ensure it delivers Class 2 track performance, providing more comfortable, punctual and reliable services.

“The steering committee is working hard to ensure these works are completed as quick as possible to get the track up to the standard North East Line passengers deserve.”

Ms Allan said great progress has already been made on the $1.7 billion Regional Rail Revival, which will improve the reliability of the regional public transport network, deliver extra train services, enhance the passenger experience and support local economies.

“We’re not wasting any time and we’re getting on with delivering better train services for regional Victorians, with work underway on every single line across the state,” Ms Allan said.

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