After many delays – both on the track and in the political process – the Warrnambool train line is finally on its way to a better condition.
A bilateral agreement on inland rail means federal government funding for a $114 million state government project to improve the line can go ahead.
The project will include a new crossing loop at Weerite, signalling upgrades between Warrnambool and Waurn Ponds, level crossing and pedestrian crossing upgrades and new train stabling facilities at Warrnambool.
The project was announced last April, and in July last year Premier Daniel Andrews said the works, set to take between a year and 18 months, would begin sometime in 2018.
Under the plan, the reliability of the line is set to improve, more services will run and modern VLocity trains will be able to run on the Warrnambool line for the first time.
The opposition has committed $633 million to purchase VLocity cars for lines including Warrnambool if they win government at this year’s state election.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, who recently took on the infrastructure portfolio, signed off on $1.57 billion in funding for the state’s Regional Rail Revival package.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan thanked Mr McCormack for acting quickly to release the funds.
Western Victoria MP Gayle Tierney said she was thrilled the long-awaited upgrade could begin and passengers would see the investment come to fruition.
Warrnambool City councillor Mike Neoh, who has spoken about the need to improve the line, welcomed the news.
“It’s high time that we’ve had our fair share of investment in rail and it’s great that all parties have got it on the radar,” he said.
Cr Neoh said wheelchair access should be a key consideration in designing new VLocity cars. He said the “proof would be in the pudding” in whether there were works on the ground before the end of the financial year.