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FAST RAIL to Geelong could be delivered within “five to seven years”, a report commissioned by Geelong council has revealed.
After a year of investigation, the Stronger, Together report says leveraging the Melbourne airport rail link construction, due to begin in 2022, could deliver electric trains capable of reaching 200km/h and peak-time services at seven-minute intervals.
But Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan has reportedly said the proposed time frame is unrealistic.
It is understood the need to electrify tracks between Geelong and Sunshine; add tracks between Wyndham Vale and Southern Cross, and develop an electric regional fleet would see the timeframe for the multi-billion project balloon beyond a decade.
Geelong Mayor Bruce Harwood said the region should not have to wait a decade for fast rail.
“The report suggests much of the vision could be built in parallel with the Melbourne Airport Rail Link,” Mr Harwood said.
“Despite serious and much-appreciated investments from successive governments, regions like Geelong are getting further away from Melbourne and tougher in commuting terms, rather than closer and easier.”
Under council’s plan a train station would be added along the Geelong line near Avalon Airport, and travel time between Geelong and Melbourne would be cut to 35 minutes.
Council’s report — with input from leading urban planners, transport and rail experts — states failing to make provision for fast rail to Geelong, Ballarat and other regions as part of the airport rail link “risks locking out affordable regional fast rail permanently”.
Fast lines to Geelong, Ballarat, Shepparton, Bendigo can be delivered for the $10 billion the Commonwealth and Victorian governments have committed to the Airport Rail Link, according to the report.
“200km/h high-capacity high-frequency regional rail services can be retrofitted within the existing V/Line country rail corridors with suitable upgrading of line, train safety management systems and relevant suburban Melbourne metro line duplications,” the reports reads.
This article first appeared on www.geelongadvertiser.com.au
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