Residents of regional Victoria received some welcome news this morning.
The Victorian Government will receive an additional $600 million from the federal government to upgrade its regional rail system, bringing the overall rail budget to $1.57 billion.
In all, the Turnbull government will be providing $1.42 billion of that total funding to the regional rail package. The federal government has pledged to improve regional infrastructure.
The Age has reported the Ballarat line will see a $555.6 million upgrade, which includes an extra service to Ararat, improving freight movements and paving the way for future additional passenger services. $110 million of the funds will be allocated for the Surf Coast rail, which will see a second platform and pedestrian crossing at Waurn Ponds. Some money will also be channeled to the Torquay and Armstrong Creek Transit Corridor.
Premier Daniel Andrews has said that 400 jobs will be created as part of a $435 million upgrade to the Gippsland line, which will include a new signaling system and higher train frequency due to new tracks.
The North East line will receive $140 million as well as $114 million for the Warrnambool line, which means station upgrades to support the growing suburbs of Donnybrook and Wallan.
The Avon River Bridge will also be upgraded for $94 million, while $91 million will be spent on the Bendigo and Echuca lines, which will result in extra train services and shorter journey times due to track-speed upgrades. Freight projects will get $30 million worth of upgrades.
The Victorian state government will contribute a total of $150 million to the works.
The major rail upgrade was announced by the Andrews government in April, backed by a claim that the federal government had owed money for leasing the Port of Melbourne. Federal Transport Minister Darren Chester called the claim a “santa wish list”, and the Victorian and the federal government had been in bitter dispute since.
Some would say that the Santa has acquiesced.