May 05, 2015

Rail a big winner in Victorian state budget

Written by  Mark Carter
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THE government of the Australian state of Victoria has committed significant funds to new rolling stock, rail projects, and infrastructure upgrades across the state over the next four years in its 2015-16 budget announced on May 5.

While a number of these projects are already under way or announced previously, the budget contains one of the largest commitments to rail in Victoria for some time.

The recently revived Melbourne Metro Rail Project, abandoned by the previous administration for an East West road link, has a provision of $A 1.5bn ($US 1.18bn) for planning, design and early works.

The government has also allocated $A 2bn towards new trains and trams, including:

• $A 1.3bn for 37 new, high-capacity metropolitan six-car trains with a 50% per cent local content requirement
• $A 274m for 20 new E-Class trams which will be built by Bombardier in Dandenong, along with associated network upgrades
• $A 90m for five new X'Trapolis trains with final assembly by Alstom in Ballarat
• $A 96m for refurbishing the older suburban fleet and trams, and
• $A 55.6 million for a trial of high-capacity signalling on the Sandringham suburban line.

Level crossing elmination will benefit from a $A 2.4bn allocation, mainly on the suburban network, as part of a broader scheme to remove 50 crossings over the next eight years.

Regional Victoria will also benefit from a $A 257m investment in seven three-car VLocity trains from Bombardier, and a new maintenance facility at Waurn Ponds, near the major regional centre of Geelong.

Upon finalisation of the business case, the budget allocates up to $A 220m for the Murray Basin Rail Project, which will allow for upgrades to the freight only line to Mildura and other branch lines in the west of the state.

To coincide with the budget the Victorian government also released a report entitled Train, Trams, Jobs 2015-2025 (PDF link), which sets out its strategy for new rolling stock requirements over the next decade to replace life-expired equipment and to cope with an anticipated increase in patronage.

The report suggests that including equipment already on order, up to 100 six-car electric trains will be required for suburban services, plus 240 new trams, and 160 coaches for regional V/Line services.

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