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A RE-ELECTED State Labor Government will splash $100 million on fast rail to Geelong and Ballarat, and begin planning to separate regional and city trains on both lines.
The cash injection — which adds to the State Government’s $50 million Geelong fast rail study — includes a plan to electrify metropolitan rail lines to Melton and Wyndham Vale to reduce congestion.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the plan would deliver regional public transport needed for the long term.
“This plan will deliver the transformation that our state needs — electrification of rail lines out to the west, and fast rail to Geelong and Ballarat returning country rail to country communities,” Mr Andrews said.
The Government’s plan includes potential for a fully electrified Geelong line serviced by electric rolling stock which would cut travel time to Geelong to under 45 minutes in trains reaching 200km/h.
Work on a business case for the western rail overhaul is set to begin next year in conjunction with planning for the government’s other rail projects — the Suburban Rail Loop and Airport Rail Link.
The Government says it will also consider including the Wyndham Vale line in the western section of the Suburban Rail Loop, the planned $50 billion rail network connecting Melbourne’s suburbs.
Meanwhile construction to separate city and regional rail lines between Melbourne and Geelong is expected to begin in 2022 and take up to a decade to complete.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said: “It was only a Labor Government that saved our rail lines from Liberal cuts and closures, and only Labor will get on and deliver true fast rail to our regional centres.”
Earlier this month State Opposition Leader Matthew Guy unveiled his plan to build high-speed rail between Geelong and Melbourne by 2022 if he wins the November election.
The project, costing up to $19 billion and including upgrades to other regional lines, is expected to slash travel time between Geelong and Melbourne from about an hour to 32 minutes.
The ambitious plan also includes metro-style trains capable of 130km/h operating via Geelong that will connect Waurn Ponds to Werribee, and Colac to Bannockburn.
This article first appeared on www.geelongadvertiser.com.au
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