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Major work begins on fast rail project

<p>The first major work has begun on the $130m regional fast rail project linking Melbourne and Ballarat.</p> <p>The work involves improving track and road surfaces at level-crossings and laying the first of 370,000 new concrete sleepers.</p> <p>When completed, trains will be able to travel at up to 160km&#47h along the line, cutting 18 minutes off the fastest trip currently possible.</p> <p>Transport minister Peter Batchelor told the FreightSolutions 2003 conference that work is well underway on the overall project and is due to be completed in mid-2005.</p> <p>He said the line will be closed at several points at different times, but services will be diverted using coaches and trucks.</p> <p>"Some short-term inconvenience is unavoidable while the works proceed, and is essential to creating a better railway for the long-term," Mr Batchelor said. </p> <br />