THE Victorian Opposition has made a big transport move ahead of this year’s state election, pledging to spend $633 million to upgrade regional rail services.
On Sunday, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said that if the Coalition came to power at November’s poll, it would replace the diesel engines with long-haul variants of the Vlocity trains.
This will enable the existing 1980s-era diesel-hauled trains to be gradually phased out of service, with the new long haul fleet to service the Warrnambool, Shepparton, Albury, Bairnsdale and Swan Hill lines.
The order for the trains would be placed in June 2019, with the new fleet delivered during the Coalition’s first term.
The fleet replacement of 16 new train sets, consisting of 96 new railcars and capable of speeds up to 160kmh, will be built in Victoria as a new variant to suit longer-haul country travel.
“I will bring Victoria’s regional rail into the twenty-first century,” Mr Guy said.
“The Liberal Nationals have a strategy to decentralise Victoria’s population to ease the squeeze on Melbourne’s growth. A modern regional rail service is a central part of our plan.
“My government would focus on bringing new jobs to country Victoria, better regional roads and rail as well as improving health and education services.
“Daniel Andrews is the Premier for Melbourne – I will be a Premier for all of Victoria.”
In other public transport news, the Labor state government has urged the federal Coalition to pay Victoria’s share of the Regional Rail Revival so it can start stage one of the projects, which include planning and development funding to get future packages of works ready for market on the Geelong and Warrnambool lines, level crossing upgrades on the Warrnambool line, and funding to secure the Armstrong Creek transit corridor.
On Monday, Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said there was an in-principle agreement for $1.57 billion, but this had not yet been delivered due to the “recent chaos coming out of Canberra”.
“We understand the Turnbull Government have no major concerns – it’s time they signed the deal and delivered the money, so we can give passengers the train services they deserve.”