Victorian Liberals announce a high-speed rail project programme to bolster decentralisation policy

Victorian Liberals announce a high-speed rail project programme to bolster decentralisation policy
Victorian Liberals announce a high-speed rail project programme to bolster decentralisation policy

The Victorian state opposition Liberals have announced a policy to upgrade major regional lines to support their policy of population decentralisation throughout the state.  $19 billion is the headline cost and the party said it would involve upgrading existing fast lines to allow for 200kph trains and also extend faster tracks beyond their current endpoints.

Also headlining the policy announcement is that express journey times from regional cities would be slashed in half from Traralgon and Geelong, reduced by a quarter from Ballarat and Bendigo.  

Some track realignments will be required in order for trains to operate upwards of 200kph and a new fleet of trains would be procured for the higher-speed services.

Matthew Guy was interviewed on ABC Melbourne on Wednesday morning and he told interviewer Jon Faine new track would be required through south-eastern Melbourne in order to achieve the travel time savings to the Latrobe valley cities.

Many of Victoria's regional railway lines outside of Melbourne already support services to operate at speeds up to 160kph.  This was brought about through the Regional Fast Rail project that kicked off under the Bracks Government.

Back then, the promise to increase train speeds and increase services to regional areas was a key electoral wedge against the then coalition Kennett Government.

The Regional Fast Rail project from the previous decade saw upgrades to track and signalling from Watergardens to Bendigo, Sunshine to Ballarat, Werribee to Geelong and Pakenham to Traralgon which enabled a new fleet trains capable of cruising at 160kph to operate faster services between regional cities and Melbourne, as well as all the towns in between.

The Herald Sun reported a previous opposition commitment to 96 new model Vlocity carriages can operate at 200kph are included in the overall $19 billion pricetag.  The cost of the new train fleet is reportedly $633 million.

In the policy statement, the opposition leader states the new train fleet will be based on Bombardier's Vlocity vehicle platform with the possibility of adding double-decker trains later on.

Likewise, the Herald Sun reported the opposition leader said the Liberal policy unveiled today would complement existing work the Andrews Government is carrying out in conjunction with the Federal Government, the Regional Rail Revival project

The opposition's policy also appears to piggyback on, or at least provide support to, the proposal to create a 'super-hub' at Sunshine as part of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.  That project provides extra tracks between Sunshine and the City for more types of services to run on top of an airport shuttle service.

The policy also signals the re-opening of passenger services to Donald, Mildura, Hamilton and Horsham as well as providing 'substantial upgrades' to Warrnambool, Wodonga, Shepparton, Echuca and Bairnsdale.

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor is a co-founder of Now a freelance writer, Alastair focuses on the intersection of public transport, public policy and related impacts on medium and high-density development.

Victorian Election 2018

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An update to this, Liberals have announced that if they're elected, a High Speed Rail Authority will be set up and located in the Latrobe Valley:
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