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Infrastructure spend retained in Victorian budget

victorian budget

 

The Victorian Budget has provided another $7.3 billion to keep delivering transport projects in the state.

Treasurer Tim Pallas said the investments would not only slash travel times and improve safety, but also support growth in the economy.

“Since 2014, the Victorian Government has committed$112b in planning, building, running and upgrading Victoria’s transport network,” he said.

“We’ve been getting on with the Big Build: the Metro Tunnel, the Level Crossing Removal Program, the Suburban Rail Loop, the West Gate Tunnel and the North East Link and many others. These projects are transforming the way Victorians travel, and creating thousands of jobs.

“Our Big Build projects support 20,000 jobs directly, and provide career paths for apprentices, cadets and trainees – giving Victorians the confidence that if they learn a trade, there will be a job for them on one of our major projects.”

Metro trams and trains

Pallas said the Government was building the Metro Tunnel to untangle the City Loop and delivering more trams and trains.

“Tracks have been laid in the Metro Tunnel and station fit out is underway. The Budget delivers $339 million to prepare the Metro Tunnel for opening, including enabling works and facilities to support Metro Tunnel network integration and operations.

“The Budget also delivers $60m for works to run Next Generation Trams in Melbourne’s west on routes 57, 59 and 82 by 2025.”

This package includes:

  • Essendon depot stabling enabling works and track crossover relocation at Raleigh Road, Maribyrnong
  • Various critical safety works and upgrades to key tram stops
  • Works to the Melbourne Showgrounds terminus and an upgrade to the tram terminus at Moonee Ponds to enable deployment of Next Generation Trams on Route 82 and futureproof for additional siding capacity.

Further investments include:

  • $353m to expand the Kananook train maintenance stabling facility, delivering more maintenance capacity. This supports network resilience and the return of the Frankston Line trains into the City Loop upon opening of the Metro Tunnel
  • $60m to upgrade Boronia Station supporting its accessibility to locals and creating more open space for locals.

Level Crossing Program

A total of 68 level crossings have been removed so far. By the end of the current program, the Lilydale, Sunbury, Cranbourne, Pakenham, Frankston and Werribee lines will be level-crossing free.

“We are delivering our election commitment to remove 110 level crossings by 2030, including an additional 25 level crossings,” Pallas said.

The Melton Line

Pallas said families in the west deserved a high‑quality public transport network that would allow them to leave the car at home, saving on petrol and parking.

“That is why we are investing $650m to upgrade the Melton line, allowing bigger and better trains to run and increasing train capacity by up to 50 per cent,” he said.

This investment is in addition to the Government’s plans for the Melton Station rebuild and four level crossing removals committed as part of the 25 more level crossings by 2030.

 

Regional travel

“So we’ve made regional fares cheaper with $190m towards capping regional fares at metro prices,” Pallas said.

“The Budget is also investing $601m to build another 23 new Victorian‑made VLocity trains, strengthening and boosting the reliability of our regional network and directly supporting up to 100 local jobs.

“Building more trains also means we can run more services, more often. The Budget also invests $219m for service uplifts across our rail network, including extra weekend services on major regional train lines.”

To improve reliability of the regional network, the 2023/24 Budget will also deliver:

  • $322m to increase the capacity of the South Dynon maintenance facility as we expand the VLocity fleet.
  • $111m to support regional rail network operations, reliability and punctuality, including operating and maintenance costs for regional network assets and an increase to rolling stock maintenance capacity to support the growing regional train fleet.

Industry think tank Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) said the budget acknowledged the “sobering reality of the fiscal circumstances”, with pandemic debts and inflationary cost pressures restricting the room in this Budget for new infrastructure spending.

“The Federal Government’s 90-day review of its Infrastructure Investment Program casts a long shadow over the Victorian Budget,” IPA chief executive  Adrian Dwyer said.

“While the vast majority of the committed Victorian pipeline will remain intact, uncertainty persists for some projects subject to Federal review – and the pauses on projects like the Melbourne Airport Rail and Geelong Fast Rail mean that the forward pipeline is looking leaner than it once was.

“But it’s not all doom and gloom: while the fiscal settings are sobering, Treasurer Pallas has largely protected the existing infrastructure program.

“In the last two budgets, Victoria topped the national infrastructure funding charts. In the 2022-23 Budget $85b and 23 per cent of general government expenditure was committed to infrastructure. Today that has fallen to $78.5b and 20 per cent.

“Despite the tough environment, Treasurer Pallas should be commended for still spending one in five Budget dollars on infrastructure.”