THE Victorian Government has reaffirmed its expectation that Australia's largest public transport infrastructure project and Melbourne's first new major rail line in 80 years, the Regional Rail Link (RRL), is on track to be completed by 2016.
Premier Denis Napthine last week joined Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder to inspect the progress of the RRL, which will separate regional trains from metropolitan trains through a new rail line running from West Werribee to Southern Cross Station.
For the first time, the new rail line will provide Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat trains with their own dedicated tracks through the metropolitan system from Sunshine to Southern Cross Station. The multibillion project is being jointly funded by the Federal and Victorian governments.
"This project will see upgrades to the Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo lines – a big win for regional Victoria – improving reliability and frequency of train services," Dr Napthine said.
"We are making fantastic progress on this enormous project and are currently running ahead of schedule, although we acknowledge that there is still a long way to go.
"On completion, the project will enable 33 extra services during peak hours, including 10 to Victoria's major regional centres, allowing more than 54,000 extra passenger trips each day," Dr Napthine said.
The Premier said the government has placed a $207 million order for 40 additional VLocity carriages to run on the regional network, to be delivered in 2014, to ensure the rail link is utilised to its full potential.
Dr Napthine said a number of significant milestones were expected over the coming months, including the opening of the new West Footscray railway station and major upgrades to Sunshine and Footscray railway stations.
According to the government, the project also includes:
- Two new stations at Wyndham Vale and Tarneit;
- Improvements to the entrance and forecourt at Tottenham station;
- Two new platforms at Southern Cross Station;
- The removal of two level crossings at Anderson Road in Sunshine;
- 13 road and rail grade separations through Wyndham Vale and Tarneit; and
- Construction of a new rail bridge over the Maribyrnong River.
Mr Mulder said the Regional Rail Link project was of huge importance to commuters from both regional Victoria and the growing western and north western suburbs as it will significantly improve the reliability of rail services.