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Victorian Govt unveils $1bn bandaid for trains and trams

<p>The Victorian Government is expected today (Thursday, February 19) to announce a $1bn bail-out of Melbourne’s privately-run passenger train and tram networks.</p> <p>It is anticipated that the money will represent a $1bn increase in subsidy to the operators Connex and Yarra Trams over the length of a five-year franchise agreement.</p> <p>The operators have agreed to take on the remaining former National Express businesses that were left in the hands of the government when the National Express group pulled out of Victorian tram and train operations in December 2002.</p> <p>The agreement means Melbourne will have one train operator (Connex) and one tram operator (Yarra Trams).</p> <p>A spokeswoman for Victorian transport minister Peter Batchelor declined to comment on details of the package, but said the $1bn figure was "about right".</p> <p>The $1bn bail-out was already flagged as a "black hole" in the state’s transport budget when the government was forced to introduce tolls to fund the Mitcham-Frankston freeway, she said.</p> <br />