Labor on fast track for change A fast rail from Melbourne to Ballarat will be the first in a series of rural train upgrades by the new Labor Government.
State and Regional Development Minister John Brumby said a
feasibility study, funded jointly by the government and
V-Line passenger licensee National Express, would be completed by February. Brumby said the Labor Party had committed
about $80 million to upgrade rural rail services and had promised to begin work on them within 100 days of obtaining office.
The funding for the projects will be available next financial year, he said.
While in opposition, the Labor Party promised: $25 million for a fast rail upgrade to Ballarat - with the aim of
cutting travel time between Ballarat and Melbourne to less than 60 minutes. $20 million for a fast rail link to
Geelong - cutting travel time to 45 minutes. $20 million for a fast rail upgrade to Bendigo - aiming for an 80-minute
link to Melbourne. $15 million to help upgrade the Traralgon line. $40 million to standardise the rural freight network.
Freight rail services may also be expanded with the newly privatised Freight Victoria seeking funds to re-open the
Sale to Bairnsdale line. Freight Victoria chief executive Marinus van Onselen said although it was early days yet for
the government, re-opening the line would see much of the logging transport revert to rail, which would also benefit
the roads. He said $2 million was needed for re-opening the line for freight and $4 million if it was also to carry
Weekly Times 27/10/99 p11
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