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A new report has found a fast rail service connecting Melbourne to key regional cities could be funded and built in conjunction with the $10 billion Melbourne Airport Rail Link.
The Stronger, Together report, commissioned by the City of Greater Geelong, proposes an electric commuter rail network between Melbourne and Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton and Latrobe, with the 200 km/h network also servicing Melbourne and Avalon airports, as well as interim towns.
The report features the input of leading urban planners, transport and rail experts who found the project is affordable and can be delivered to Geelong and Ballarat within 5 to 7 years, and all regional fast rail lines, except Latrobe, can be constructed within the $10 billion already allocated by the Victorian and Commonwealth governments to the Airport Rail Link.
The network would be planned and built in parallel with the Airport Rail Link tunnel, Sunshine station and metropolitan suburban track duplications, and would provide around 2.7 million regional Victorians with access to fast rail to Melbourne.
Technical advice suggests eight trains per hour could run in peak periods on the Geelong line, with express services reaching Melbourne in 35 minutes.
City of Greater Geelong acting mayor Peter Murrihy argues it would also ease congestion issues in Melbourne and regional Victoria.
"Geelong and other regional cities need solutions now to train overcrowding and unreliabilty and clogged freeways. The trains now are at 140 per cent capacity. We have the business case that shows fast rail doesn't have to wait another 10 years," he said.
About 8,000 jobs would be created during construction, as well as providing manufacturing and maintenance jobs.
All Geelong stations would continue to receive services and the line would be extended to Winchelsea and Colac.
This article first appeared on www.bay939.com.au
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