The Victorian Government’s 2019–2020 Budget includes a $100 million boost to the Western Rail Plan.
The investment is intended to fund planning and design works to separate the regional and metro services on the Geelong and Ballarat lines as part of a wider plan to deliver fast rail to the regions. This separation will avoid situations where V/Line trains are slowed down by Metro trains, allowing for faster and more frequent journeys.
Rail Projects Victoria (RPV) has started a program of investigations and technical studies along the Melton, Werribee, Wyndham Vale and Geelong corridors, with staging of the Western Rail Plan being considered alongside the Melbourne Airport Rail Link business case, due for publication in 2020.
Committee for Ballarat chair Nick Beale welcomed the investment in a statement, saying the works were “in line with Committee’s stated aim of duplicating the line between Ballarat and Southern Cross, which includes electrification and quadruplication of the line to Melton. Once the work is complete, it will result in a noticeably faster trip to Melbourne.”
The Western Rail Plan sets out investment plans for three connected rail projects, including the creation of two new metro lines leading west to Melton and Wyndham Vale; increased rail capacity between Melbourne’s CBD and Sunshine; and upgrades on the Geelong and Ballarat lines to allow trains to run faster than 160km/h.
The creation of the metro lines to Melton and Wyndham Vale will separate the two areas from the Ballarat and Geelong lines, with Wyndham Vale also proposed as the potential western section of the Suburban Rail Loop, which is expected to cost at least $50 billion, with a pencilled completion date of 2050.