27 June 2017

Turnbull government’s regional rail revolution

I am delighted that after several years strongly advocating for better passenger rail, the Turnbull government has delivered a $1.57 billion regional rail package.

$1.42 billion will come from the Commonwealth and $150m from the state government.

$110m will be invested in the South Geelong to Waurn Ponds rail duplication as well as planning and land acquisition for a rail corridor through Armstrong Creek to Torquay. This is an addition to the $1m in planning money the Coalition committed in 2016.

A second platform and pedestrian overpass will be built at Waurn Ponds station as part of pre-duplication works.

The duplication of the rail track will deliver faster and more reliable train services.

The business case and detailed design for the rail duplication is expected to be completed in mid 2018.

For the past two years, I have been campaigning for vital funding to duplicate the rail line between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds which includes second platforms at South Geelong, Marshall and Waurn Ponds stations.  I also championed a regional rail fund for Victoria.  I want to thank everyone who signed our petitions and backed our campaign and vision.

I am concerned that it will take the state government so long to complete the rail duplication business case.  State Labor needs to expedite the design, planning and construction of second platforms at Marshall and South Geelong stations as well as the rail duplication itself.  The Public Transport Users Association has described this project as the urgent priority for our region.

The state has not provided any breakdown as to how the $110m will be spent.  That’s really not good enough.

We do know that more money will be needed to complete the rail duplication. I hope that the state can contribute significantly to this project. Our government’s $10b National Rail Program also has the potential to deliver more funding.

Another $114 million will be spent on the Warrnambool line for track and signalling works, and a passing loop west of Colac. The project will pave the way for more services and for new VLocity trains, which currently only travel as far as Waurn Ponds, to go all the way to Warrnambool.

It is now critical that Daniel Andrews and State Labor commit to delivering an additional daily train service to and from Warrnambool.

Let’s not forget that the Victorian Government did not include any money in its 2017-18 budget for regional rail projects in south west Victoria.

Infrastructure Australia’s Australian Infrastructure Plan identified the need to support fast-growing regions with coordinated, long-term planning and investment to support population growth.

Under the Turnbull government’s $1.57 billion regional rail package, passengers will get more reliable and frequent train services across the state and over 1000 jobs will be created.

We have also secured agreement from the Victorian Government to get going on the business case for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link, with our $30 million investment.

I am proud that our government is helping to get Victoria moving and supporting job creation in regional areas.

27 June 2017