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Metro suburban services could be extended to Wyndham Vale and Melton, paving the way for high speed electric trains to Geelong and Ballarat, under plans being pursued by the Andrews government.
Monday's Victorian State Budget will include $100 million for detailed design work on the Western Rail Plan, which aims to separate suburban and regional trains in Melbourne's booming western suburbs.
Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said the investment would provide a step towards fast rail for Geelong and Ballarat.
Metro suburban services could be extended to Wyndham Vale and Melton. (9News)
"They're our fastest growing parts of regional Victoria, and that is adding more and more pressure on our train network," she said.
The plan would see new electrified tracks built between Sunshine and Wyndham Vale and Sunshine and Melton, allowing Metro to take over from V/Line in busy growth areas such as Tarneit, which has become the regional operator's second busiest station after Southern Cross.
It would also reduce the number of stops V/Line trains are required to make, allowing for potential electrification to Geelong and Ballarat and the introduction of new high-speed electric regional trains.
The project will be planned alongside the Metro tunnel and Airport Rail Link.
Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan. (9News)Development Director at Rail Projects Victoria, Stephen Shaddock, said the project would be planned alongside the Metro tunnel and Airport Rail Link, with Sunshine to play a key role.
"It's quite a complex sequence in terms of making sure you get the right lines onto the right connections," he said.
"The idea is that generally that the first electrification you do will go into the metro tunnel because that's where you've got your existing spare capacity, and that provides an immediate uplift onto the next lines.”
The budget commitment was welcomed by Bill Russell from the Rail Futures Institute, who said the extra capacity would be needed within a decade.
"Somewhere in that window 2025 to 2027 we'd like to see the Western Rail Plan fully implemented," he said.
The government expects to have a business case finalised by next year.
This article first appeared on www.9news.com.au
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