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Fast rail project burning up the cash

<p>The cost of the fast rail upgrades to the regional train lines linking Melbourne with Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat and the Latrobe Valley has blown out by $61m.</p> <p>The project to increase train travel speeds on the regional lines to 160km&#47h will now cost at least $617m.</p> <p>Victorian transport minister Peter Batchelor said nearly half the increase was caused by rail operator National Express pulling out of the project.</p> <p>The rest will cover added insurance, land and track redesign costs that Mr Batchelor said will deliver more frequent and flexible services on the lines than would otherwise have been possible.</p> <p>However, the state opposition claims the government has bungled negotiations with private operators involved in the project and that this cost increase will be the first of many.</p> <br />