The Victorian government has confirmed $1.48 billion to locally build 100 modern, accessible trams to replace A and Z class rollingstock.
The order is expected to support 1,900 local manufacturing jobs and will include a new maintenance facility for the future fleet.
“We’re investing in better roads, new trams and buses, and upgrades to keep our transport system safe as Victoria moves to COVID Normal and more people are moving around the network, while tackling transport emissions,” said Victorian Minister for Public Transport, Ben Carroll.
The investment in new trams was welcomed by Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO Caroline Wilkie.
“When orders like this are placed locally, they drive jobs not just for manufacturers but for many more of the 900 Australian businesses that make up the rail supply chain,” Ms Wilkie said.
“Orders of this magnitude provide the scale the industry needs to innovate and grow and is a welcome investment in the future of Australian manufacturing and the wider rail supply chain.”
The next-generation trams project has been in the interactive design stage, with indications that the future trams will include on-board energy storage to reduce the need for infrastructure upgrades. Several manufacturers have participated in design and engineering workshops to adapt their tram models for the Victorian network.
The budget also includes $187.6 million in upgrades for the V/Line network.
A total of $438.1m will be spent to support private operators, including Metro Trains Melbourne and Yarra Trams as well as bus operators, to provide essential transport services while farebox revenue has fallen due to COVID-19.
The budget also specifies figures for investment into a number of rail infrastructure projects. These include $2.2bn to start the Suburban Rail Loop, $2bn for Geelong Fast Rail, and Victorian government contributions to the Shepparton and Warrnambool line upgrades, which are co-funded with the federal government. The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) welcomed the funding commitments.
“The planned upgrade to the Geelong line, and the long-awaited Airport rail line are very welcome,” said PTUA spokesperson Daniel Bowen. “It’s also great to see funding for regional rail upgrades and the Suburban Rail Loop kick-started.”
The budget specifies $48.8m for the stalled Murray Basin Rail Project, however is dependent upon yet to be confirmed federal funding to go ahead.
Other projects in the 2020/21 budget include $276.5m for the Dandenong Corridor, enabling faster train speeds for the incoming High Capacity Metro Trains and local infrastructure upgrades.
Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said the spending would stimulate the Victorian economy and provide better services for Victorians.
“Through regional rail upgrades and a faster train service to Geelong – we’re connecting communities, reducing congestion on busy roads and supporting thousands of regional jobs.”
Wilkie said the government’s funding would benefit the community for years to come.
“This is a huge investment in rail infrastructure that will change how the people travel to school and work for the better,” Ms Wilkie said.
“These projects will deliver a modern, efficient and sustainable rail network to support the growth of the state for years to come.”