300km of regional rail track and 15 train stations will be upgraded as part of a $2.7 billion spending plan to help Victoria recover after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The spending will be spread across the economy, including education, social housing, and tourism upgrades, however $328 million is targeted at the transport sector.
Part of the funding will go towards upgrades of trains and trams and is in addition to the $107bn Big Build program.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said that the funding will go to projects that will begin immediately.
“We’re getting to work on hundreds of new projects across the state, meaning shovels in the ground – and boots in the mud – within a matter of weeks and months,” he said.
“From upgrading our roads and rail, to critical maintenance for social housing and new projects for our tourist destinations, this package will create jobs for our local tradies and so many others – and support local businesses all over Victoria.”
$90m will be invested in upgrading and replacing sleepers, structures, and signalling across the regional rail network. This funding will cover the renewal of 300km of sleepers and ballast across the regional network.
$62.6m will go towards the maintenance and restoration of trams and regional trains. Over half of this funding will go towards improving the reliability of V/Line trains.
$23m will be spent on improving stations and stops, including better seating, passenger information, toilets, and accessibility upgrades.
$5.6m will be spent on removing rubbish and graffiti as well as managing vegetation along transport corridors.
Chief executive of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia Adrian Dwyer said that the funding was well structured.
“The phase one package provides the right blend of projects and programs that will support job creation and stimulate economic activity,” he said.
“The focus on new and existing projects across schools, social housing, and road and rail maintenance means that the benefits of this stimulus will be broad-based.”
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said that the funding will help the wider economy.
“We’ve always said Victoria is the engine room of the nation – with this package, we’re cranking the engine and kickstarting our economy.”
The entire funding package is expected to create 3,700 direct jobs with many thousands more in the supply chain. For companies which need to hire extra employees, the Victorian government has mandated that new hires are to be found through the Working for Victoria scheme.
In a press conference on May 18, Andrews said that this announcement would be followed by other announcements which will target particular sectors. Andrews would not confirm whether the Melbourne Airport Rail Link would be announced, however he suggested that a decision would be made soon.