VICTORIAN Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan this week announced that the Victorian Budget 2017-18 will include a $1.45 billion Regional Rail Revival package of upgrades on every regional line across Victoria.
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.
In addition to the $518 million Ballarat Line Upgrade announced in last year's 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, with the State Government saying it will also continue 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.