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Big Build boosted by Budget

The Australasian Railways Association has welcomed significant funding for rail projects around Victoria in the State Budget.

ARA Chief Executive Officer Caroline Wilkie endorsed the moves to support greater use of rail, including $866.3 million to address the impacts of the COVID pandemic on the transport network.

She said rail patronage had been hit hard by COVID restrictions, and bringing people back to the rail network would be an essential part of Victoria’s post pandemic recovery.

“It is essential that people return to public transport to keep Victoria moving efficiently and to support its sustainable growth over time,” she said.

“Additional measures to address COVID impacts will ensure the industry can continue to make customers’ experience a great one when they do return to public transport as a more normal way of life resumes.”

The ARA welcomed $338.1 million for additional services and to operate new transport infrastructure being delivered as part of $90 billion Victoria’s Big Build program.

Wilkie said the program provided an incredible opportunity to create greater access to public transport and enhanced social outcomes for Victorians.

“Projects like the Level Crossing Removal Project, Suburban Rail Loop and Metro Tunnel will change how the people travel to school and work for the better,” she said.

The budget also confirmed an additional $265 million will be invested into the state’s unprecedented pipeline of locally manufactured trains and trams, including 12 new VLocity trains for the regional rail network.

“The ARA welcomes such a strong investment in rail manufacturing, which recognises the significant capability that exists within our industry,” Wilkie said.

She also welcomed $181 million to maintain rail freight lines in Victoria as the state prepares for a tripling of freight volumes by 2051, as well as $3.5 million to extend the
Mode Shift Incentive Scheme.