Below Rail Infrastructure, Engineering, Passenger Rail, Rail Supply

Major regional rail package put to market

Expressions of interest are being sought for a major contract to upgrade Victoria’s Gippsland, Shepparton, and Bendigo and Echuca regional rail lines.

Upgrade works for the three regional routes will be packaged up as the next major contract delivered under Regional Rail Revival, a $1.75 billion program jointly-funded by the Australian and Victorian governments.

“Packaging these projects together will mean works on these crucial regional upgrades can get underway and allows the most capable and experienced construction companies in Victoria to compete for this multi-million-dollar package of works,” federal infrastructure and regional development minister Michael McCormack said on March 27.

McCormack said the scope of works planned for the Gippsland line, between Melbourne and Bairnsdale in the state’s east, had been refined and finalised following detailed investigations over the past year.

The Gippsland line project will include upgrading signalling, duplicating track, extending a crossing loop, adding platforms at four stations, building a stabling facility, modernising train detection at level crossings and renewing the drainage structures beneath the rail.

In the state’s central north, the Shepparton line project will include platform extensions and stabling to suit VLocity trains, level crossing upgrades and an extension of the Murchison East crossing loop, all to enable VLocity trains to travel to and from Shepparton for the first time.

The Shepparton work under the contract is ‘stage two’ of the overall upgrade for the line. Stage one delivered a stabling upgrade at Shepparton station, and 29 extra coach services between Shepparton and Seymour to connect with train services. A planned third stage – currently in the business case phase – would enable nine return services on the line.

Further west, work on the Bendigo and Echuca line will include signalling upgrades from Bendigo to Epsom and Eaglehawk to give passengers in the City of Greater Bendigo a metro-style train service.

Together, Victorian transport infrastructure minister Jacinta Allan said the package of works would mean “more regional Victorians can look forward to better train services sooner”.

“The specialist project teams at Rail Projects Victoria have undertaken extensive investigations to determine the infrastructure needed to deliver benefits to passengers on these lines,” Allan said.

With planning and site investigations well underway on all three lines, Allan said construction should get underway as early as next year, with a targeted completion in 2022.

The announcement of the Gippsland-Shepparton-Bendigo/Echuca contract follows the Australian Rail Track Corporation calling for expressions of interest earlier this week for its upgrade of the North East line, which also comes under the Regional Rail Revival program.

Elsewhere, work is already well underway on the Ballarat line under the program.

“We’ve seen the unprecedented construction taking place along the Ballarat line, including upgrades to signalling and level crossings, crossing loops, station upgrades, duplicated track and stabling,” Allan said. “This project is a sign of what’s to come on the Shepparton, Bendigo and Gippsland lines.”