Spring Street allocates $50 million toward planning work for faster rail services to Geelong

The State Government has announced $50 million to be allocated in the state's budget this year will go toward detailed investigations for fast rail infrastructure between Melbourne & Geelong which will, the government claims, will compliment planning work already underway for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.

The only high-level concept/vision released with the announcement was the video, embedded in the Premier's tweet below, which points toward Sunshine becoming a super-hub for rail.

Money allocated in this year's state budget will also 'consider a new fleet of dedicated trains capable of travelling between 250 and 300 kilometres per hour'.

The inclusion of '250 to 300kph' speeds in the media release raised a few eyebrows around the Urban Melbourne newsroom, given that traditionally, trains running at those speeds only become economic when travelling very long distances.  Melbourne & Geelong, depending on the path taken are 70-90km apart.

Victoria's regional lines outside of Melbourne, broadly speaking, have a top speed of 160kph to Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Traralgon - elsewhere railway lines (and signalling) only permit speeds of 130kph or less.

The State Government reiterated it wanted a future Melbourne Airport Rail Link to integrate with the existing rail network and compliment faster services to regional Victoria.

The Labor Government wants a future Melbourne Airport Link that integrates into the existing rail network.

This would maximise the benefits of the link, unlocking capacity in Melbourne’s booming west and north and providing better services for regional Victoria.

Today’s announcement complements the work already underway on a joint preliminary business case for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link between Victoria and the Commonwealth.

Spring Street also announced the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority, which was set up to deliver the Metro tunnel project and since has been given the reigns to deliver projects like the South Morang - Mernda extension, will be renamed.

Rail Projects Victoria will be the new brand name and all projects currently underway in Victoria - the Metro Tunnel project, The Regional Rail Revival project unveiled last year, and the faster-rail-to-Geelong investigation work - will now be carried out by the newly renamed authority.

Further suburban electrification projects are on the cards as part of the planning money announced today

4 comments

James Stewart's picture

The video wasn't the only official thing released. There is a map on this Age article that makes it very clear of the works involved. https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/high-speed-trains-to-link-ge...

Also the Metro Tunnel Authority are not responsible for the Mernda extension, that I believe is the done under the Level Crossing Removal Authority. Anyways it is an easy mistake, with these authorities tackling different projects its easy to get confused.

Melbman's picture

Oh this again..,

The PR spin has certainly gone into overdrive lately, but hey that’s to be expected with the election this year.

I’d hate to see how much a Melbourne Airport line, Melton and Wyndhamvale line electrification and this Geelong fast rail would cost, let alone the pain it would cause again along the West Footscray to Footscray section in particular. Limited room there to build extra lines to handle the extra trains on what would be 3 new electrified metro lines, in addition to Sunbury/Watergardens services.

On another note, one thing I was surprised by is that the new level crossing works at St Albans and Ginifer have no provision for at least a 3rd track to provide bypass possibilities for either Bendigo trains or even additional express options for the future. Seems like a missed opportunity that would not be easy to build if it was needed in coming years.

James Stewart's picture

Yes it will cost Billions. But would you rather have this money spent on another major freeway. These upgrades are well needed and welcomed. Even if it may seem like spin, it could become a reality, if they had a second term. If the Metro 2 Tunnel gets a go ahead and more tracks are added between Sunshine and Footscray you could easily get enough capacity for the new lines and the new Geelong/Airport express service.

The Airport Link could always join up at Sunbury in the future and become the new Bendigo express route if there is a need for it.

johnproctor's picture

one difference between this PR spin and most is that Labor have actually delivered on their promises and have delivered on so many 'old promises' for the Melbourne transport network.

Metro Tunnel - well underway
Level Crossings - is it 14 removed so far? with another 8 by the election or something
As a subset of Level Crossings - Dandenong corridor improvements after 20+ years of talk
Mernda Rail
Chandler Highway duplication
Thompson Road upgrades

etc.

Compare that to the previous Liberal Government who did make insidious promises about Rowville, Doncaster and Airport 'studies' that never went anywhere.

Also that map in the Age article shows that these proposals and the announcement of funding for PLANNING is real. 2 or 3 points where it says "alignments in this section under consideration".

I'd expect with federal money behind an airport link there'll be significant construction underway relatively soon but the Geelong works could be more like North East Link with planning well underway by the next election but physical works still a bit further out

think of them as major projects something like the below interspersed with the electrifications, stabling upgrades and other works ...

2017 ------------ Metro Tunnel --------------- 2025

2020-------------- Airport--------------- 2027

2025 --------------Geelong------------- 2030's

Noting that heavy civil works actually finish earlier than 'first train' (eg. Metro Tunnel heavy civil works finish in 2022 so that workforce could start to role across to airport for peak activity in the mid years of its construction and the same from Airport to whatever the Geelong project looks like.

Same will happen on roads. Westgate Tunnel will wrap up in 2021/2022 while North East link is probably going to still be building up to full construction at that time through to 2025/2026.

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