The programme includes $A 80m to duplicate track and other upgrades as a precursor complementing future duplication from South Geelong to Waurn Ponds. These works are part of a wider $A 160m Geelong line upgrade, $A 30m of which will also support the corridor preservation for a future link to Armstrong Creek.
A separate business case for the full duplication of the South Geelong to Waurn Ponds corridor has been submitted to Infrastructure Australia for assessment.
Target completion dates for each of the projects being delivered by Rail Projects Victoria have been outlined, subject to planning and environmental approvals:
- Ballarat line - to be completed by the end of 2019.
- Warrnambool line - by late 2020
- Geelong line - by late 2021
- Gippsland line - by late 2022, with the Avon River bridge replacement in early 2021
- Bendigo and Echuca - upgrade by early 2021
Meanwhile, local media reports suggest that Australian prime minister Mr Malcolm Turnbull is pushing for progress on Melbourne’s airport rail link before this year’s Victorian state election to be held in November.
Sources say Turnbull does not want any delays with the feasibility study and business case for a heavy rail link between Melbourne and the international and domestic terminals at Tullamarine airport, scheduled for completion in September, in order that key decisions can be made before the state election.
In the last month’s federal budget, a commitment was made for $A 5bn towards the construction cost of the airport rail link provided matching funding is forthcoming from the Victorian government.