Preferred bidder announced for $518m Ballarat Line Upgrade

THE Victorian Government last week announced that a consortium involving Lendlease, Coleman Rail and SMEC has been selected as the preferred bidder to build the $518 million Ballarat Line Upgrade, following a competitive evaluation process.

The half-a-billion upgrade will duplicate 18 kilometres of track between Deer Park West and Melton, paving the way for future electrification to Melton. The project will also deliver extra passing loops, new train stabling, improved stations, and more car parking, and relocate stabling at Bacchus Marsh station to Maddingley.

V/Line trains at Southern Cross Station
Above: V/Line trains at Southern Cross Station / by J 536.

The upgrades delivered by the project will enable more trains for passengers in Melbourne's west and right along the Ballarat line. The Ballarat Line Upgrade is the first project underway as part of the Regional Rail Revival package of upgrades to every regional passenger line in Victoria.

Since February, more than 200 site investigations have been conducted and nearly 90 boreholes have been dug to understand ground conditions along the Ballarat corridor, and inform design and construction of the project.

Extensive community consultation has also been undertaken, including meetings with councils and landowners, an online survey completed by more than 150 people and engagement with more than 2,000 local passengers.

A final proposal will now be developed, with a contract due to be awarded later this year. Major construction is expected to start early next year.

In addition to the Ballarat Line Upgrade, the Regional Rail Revival package includes:

  • More than half-a-billion dollars for the Gippsland line, with $435 million for major upgrades between Pakenham and Traralgon, and $95 million to replace the Avon River Bridge.
  • $110 million for the first stage of the Surf Coast Rail Project, which will prepare the corridor for duplication between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds, while work is undertaken to complete the business case for the duplication. The funding will also reserve land for a future line to Torquay.
  • $114 million for the Warrnambool line to upgrade track and signalling to enable more services and new VLocity trains to operate all the way to Warrnambool.
  • $140 million for track, signalling and station improvements on the North East Line to Albury
  • $91 million for the Bendigo and Echuca Line to support faster trains, an extra daily service to Echuca, and delivery of Bendigo Metro Stage 2 with more services to Epsom and Eaglehawk.
  • $10 million to plan for an improved freight network in and around Shepparton.
  • More than $20 million for the $440 million Murray Basin Rail Project.

The Regional Rail Revival program is being supported by almost $1.5 billion in Commonwealth funding, which was announced last month.

Photo: V/Line trains at Southern Cross Station / 'V/LINE Vlocity & N class' / J 536 / Licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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