South West Coast independent election candidate Mike Neoh has welcomed the news the region’s contractors will be able to apply for a share of the $114 million Warrnambool line upgrade works.
South-west construction companies have been encouraged by the State Government to bid for contracts to complete works with expressions of interest now being sought for the multi-million-dollar contracts to design and build important aspects of the projects.
The upgrades will allow for a fifth daily return service between Warrnambool and Melbourne and include building a new crossing loop, signalling upgrades between Waurn Ponds and Warrnambool, level crossing upgrades and new train stabling facilities at Warrnambool.
Mr Neoh said it was a “live project” not an election commitment like the Liberal-National’s proposed $19 billion fast train scheme announced last week by Liberal opposition leader Matthew Guy.
“It's been funded,” he said.
“It's not an election promise. It’s happening.
“This long awaited news, unlike the recent fast train concept, has time frames, is realistic, achievable and believable that will allow us move towards VLocity trains.”
Mr Neoh said commuters wanted a safe, reliable and efficient service to Melbourne.
“There is no use having new VLocity trains until the track is upgraded,” he said.
“The critical thing is the Federal Government and the state Labor government have come out and announced it together.
“It's got apolitical support. It almost conflicts with the high speed message from the state Liberal opposition.
“The federal Coalition government are supporting VLocity trains which is more doable and more realistic.
“People don’t want a pie-in-the-sky, they want efficient and safe travel.”
He said construction beginning in 2019 and finishing in late 2020 was “fantastic”.
“That’s not that far away, it’s not decades away,” he said.
“The community just want to know something is happening. They don’t want ‘he said, she said’. When I wrote to the state leaders trains was one of the key things I asked about.”
South West Coast MP Roma Britnell said Mr Guy had done the business case and worked on the project for the past two years.
"We visited China (Mrs Britnell and Mr Neoh) together to look at trains,” she said.
"Everywhere we've gone people are talking about fast trains. It's not new technology, it's the way things should be now in the 21st century."