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Detailed planning and design work is under way for Shepparton’s Regional Rail Revival project, but budget papers indicate the stage three works that will deliver nine daily services and speeds of 130 km/h won’t be completed until mid-2024.
Stage two of the more than $750 million project is on track to be completed in late 2022 and it was hoped when funding for stage three was announced the stages could be integrated into one major works program.
Regional Rail Revival Director Mark Havryluk said the plan was still to deliver modern, fast and frequent trains to Shepparton as soon as possible.
“Our upgrades to the Shepparton line are already well under way, and with stage two of the project making good progress we’re also making progress on the next step forward,” he said.
“We’re doing the detailed planning and design work for stage three to ensure we can deliver extra services and faster journeys to passengers as soon as possible.”
While modern VLocity trains can run on the line when stage two is completed in 2022, stage three is critical to the end result, including faster travel times and nearly double the number of return services to Melbourne daily. Just over $55 million of the total final stage project cost of $400 million is expected to be spent on stage three in the 2021-22 financial year.
There will also be track upgrades between Seymour and Shepparton to enable trains to travel faster, and expanded stabling for VLocity trains.
Since stage three received funding worth nearly $400 million in the 2020-21 state and federal budgets, Rail Projects Victoria has been progressing the critical planning and design work required to develop timelines for the project.
That work is nearing completion, with a delivery strategy to be confirmed in the coming months.
Works on stage two of the Shepparton Line Upgrade are well under way, which will enable VLocity trains to travel to and from Shepparton for the first time.
More than 10 km of underground trenching, boring and above-ground pipe has been installed along the Shepparton line to accommodate the new cabling required for the project’s 59 level crossing upgrades.
Crews have also undertaken vegetation removal at Murchison East and site investigations along the line, with site mobilisation continuing at key sites in the coming weeks to support major construction.
Work will commence later this year to extend platforms at Mooroopna, Murchison East and Nagambie and a stabling facility will be built north of Shepparton to house VLocity trains, which will be able to travel on the Shepparton line after the project’s completion in late 2022.
This article first appeared on www.riverineherald.com.au
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