The Victorian Labor government has announced a new $100 million commitment to undertake planning for faster regional trains between Melbourne and Ballarat.
The funding will go towards the government’s new “Western Rail Plan”, which is provide planning for the full separation of regional and metro services on the Ballarat line. Works will include:
- Two new electrified metro lines to Melton and Wyndham Vale with possible new stations, with the Wyndham Vale line potentially becoming the western section of the Suburban Rail Loop.
- Additional tracks between Sunshine and the CBD to run extra services, most likely through a new rail tunnel which would also be utilised by Airport-bound trains and integrated with the Airport Rail Link.
- A major upgrade to the express-Ballarat lines to run fast trains, including the potential full electrification of these lines with new electric regional rolling stock.
State transport minister Jacinta Allan said that the project would build on the work already done to make services faster and more reliable on the line.
“We’ve added extra services, made country crossings safer and we’re getting on with the Ballarat Line Upgrade – and we’ll now plan for our next big build for Ballarat,” Allan said.
“We’re returning Ballarat trains to our second biggest regional city. Only Labor can be trusted to build the regional public transport we need for the future.”
Earlier this month, the Coalition opposition put forward its own plans to bring faster trains to Victoria’s regional lines, saying that a major rebuild and overhaul of the network could provide services running at 200km/h.
The government dismissed the plan, saying that lacked detail. It is, however, supported by the the Victorian Chamber of Commerce, whose chief executive Mark Stone has also now come out in support of Labor’s plan. Stone said it was pleasing that major parties now have regional fast rail commitments prior to the November election.
“In the lead-up to the state election it is great to see strong commitment from both major parties to improve Victoria’s transport system, so our state can live up to its reputation as a great place to live and do business,” Stone said.
“Long term infrastructure plans are essential to better connect regional workers and businesses, cutting travel times and creating more liveable regional cities and towns.”