$18 million will be spent to fix mobile blackspots along rail lines in regional Victoria, with procurement to begin this year.
The state’s Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources will commence a procurement process in December 2015, to find a mobile carrier partner to co-invest in the project with the government.
The government on Monday announced the five busiest rail corridors – between Melbourne and Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Seymour and Traralgon on V/Line services – will get the mobile blackspot upgrades.
Small business, innovation and trade minister Philip Dalidakis said the project was expected to boost productivity for regional business commuters, resulting in an estimated $20 million addition to the Victorian economy every year – $2 million more than the capital expenditure expected in the project.
“The Andrews Labor Government is committed to fixing mobile blackspots throughout the state and particularly along our major regional train lines,” Dalidakis said.
“We’ve listened to regional commuters and we’re taking action.
“With more than 14.3 million passenger trips per year made between Melbourne and Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Seymour and Traralgon, improved mobile coverage will mean regional commuters can use their mobile and smart devices.”
Dalidakis was joined by regional development minister Jaala Pulford to announce the spending at Ballarat railway station.
Pulford said the spending would put regional rail commuters on equal footing with their city counterparts.
“I know how intensely frustrating this is for commuters who have work to do, or who want to send a text message or tweet to the world,” Pulford said.
“The Labor Government is investing in the future of our regional cities through the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund, and this project will be a big productivity boost for the state.”
Contracts will be awarded and construction of the mobile towers will commence in mid-2016, the government expects.