During his visit to Warrnambool Station on Friday morning, Premier Daniel Andrews said the region’s train line was finally getting the investment it deserved with a $114 million upgrade after being “stuck”.
Mr Andrews said work on the line was being planned and would begin sometime next year and take 12 to 18 months, meaning it would be completed in 2019 at the earliest.
The premier said the upgrade, which included signalling work and track upgrades, would allow VLocity carriages to run on the line for the first time.
However, Transport Minister Jacinta Allan previously confirmed VLocity carriages would run when the upgrade was first announced in April.
The government said the investment would cut the trip between Melbourne and Warrnambool by up to 20 minutes.
Mr Andrews said an upgrade would allow extra daily services to be added over time, and said the investment represented a beginning.
“We’ve been stuck for a while,” he said.
“People have talked about upgrading this line for a very long time and it just hasn't happened.
“That’s held this community back and it’s meant this community has not had its fair share.
“I aim to change that, and once you make that big breakthrough and invest that $114 million that opens up the possibility in decades to come that could see many, many more services.”
V/Line chief executive officer James Pinder said the statewide $1.57 billion regional rail upgrade was a “once in a career” opportunity.
The premier also confirmed he travelled to Warrnambool on a plane, rather than catching the train or travelling by car on south-west roads, which a recent auditor-general report found were some of the worst in the state.
“I took the opportunity in the budget to provide $103 million for south-west roads and I’m very proud of that –that’s creating jobs and creating better roads services,” he said.
“We know there are significant challenges.”
A spokesman for South West Coast MP Roma Britnell said there was no new information in the premier’s railway station announcement, saying “his whole visit was designed to tick a box so he can say he’s been to Warrnambool”.