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Geelong's population is predicted to reach 445,000 within 26 years, and the city's existing rail services will be unable to cope without major upgrades, according to the nation's peak infrastructure body.
An Infrastructure Australia report on the nation's transport priorities calls for the electrification of the Geelong line, and the duplication of the existing express track, to allow the city to grow as an economic hub.
"Limited capacity, and low train speeds resulting from the inability to run express services between the two centres, will limit Geelong’s potential to grow as an economic hub to complement Melbourne," the document warns."
"Increased rail capacity between the two cities, and faster travel times, would not only address emerging demand, but would also provide a nationally significant opportunity to facilitate growth in a key regional city.
"The current rail service is provided by diesel trains and has limited capacity. Electrification of the line would allow operation of higher-capacity trains with increased reliability and inter-operability with the Melbourne metropolitan rail system.
"Duplicating the existing single-track pair would also allow for express services to operate through the suburban Melbourne sections of the line, providing faster journey times between Geelong and Melbourne."
It said Geelong's growth would need to be monitored to determine the timing and extent of rail infrastructure upgrades.
Shadow Transport Minister David Davis said the report was a wake-up call for the Victorian government, which he said had failed to ensure rail services kept pace with demand.
"Infrastructure Australia is right to identify capacity enhancements on the Geelong-Melbourne line as a priority," he told the Geelong Broadcasters newsroom.
Mr Davis said while the opposition had committed to build a high-speed rail link between Geelong and Melbourne before the last election, Labor had only offered a study.
"Any commuter who gets on the Geelong rail service at the moment regularly knows the unreliability and knows the overcrowding.
This article first appeared on www.bay939.com.au
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