Victoria's Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan says $114 million to upgrade the Warrnambool train line will deliver more services, better reliability for passengers and pave the way for VLocity trains.
The government announced funding for the line a year ago but passengers are yet to see big improvements with frequent disruptions to the 1980s-era diesel-hauled trains, and no further details from the minister.
Member for Western Victoria James Purcell said following a last meeting with Ms Allan, he understood that the proposed VLocity trains were too light to trigger the line's crossing lights and signals.
It was only late last year that the state government announced the completion of upgrades to 22 level crossings on the Warrnambool line as part of the $50 million Safer Country Crossings Program.
Mr Purcell said more works would be undertaken, including building a new crossing loop, signalling upgrades between Waurn Ponds and Warrnambool, level crossing and pedestrian crossing upgrades and new train stabling facilities at Warrnambool.
“Some of the funds for these works have recently been released by the federal government,” he said.
“This will see works on the level crossing upgrades while the main works packages are further developed.
“The detailed delivery program and dates for the main works package are currently being worked on.”
The service between Warrnambool and Melbourne is scheduled to take three-and-a-half hours.
Mr Purcell said the VLocity, which was the highest-speed train in the V/Line fleet, was currently being equipped with onboard canteens and seats necessary for extended regional trips.
“These are long-overdue upgrades that will be welcomed by regional Victorian rail passengers,” he said.
“They will reduce travel time and increase comfort for those utilising train services from our region.”
Last month’s performance figures revealed Warrnambool line services experienced their most punctual run in six-and-a-half years. But since the figures were released last week a number of trains have been cancelled because of breakdowns or line faults.
Ms Allan said the recent disruptions on the line were “frustrating for passengers after such a good month in April”.