Victorian Government will invest AUD 100 million (USD 68.76 million) under the 2019-2020 budget to deliver the detailed planning and design works for the full separation of regional and metro services on the Geelong and Ballarat lines.
The investment will continue the technical work required to deliver two new electrified metro lines to Melton and Wyndham Vale, with the Wyndham Vale line potentially becoming the western section of the Suburban Rail Loop.
Separating the lines will mean fewer stops, faster trips and less crowded trains – and is the first step to delivering fast rail to the regions.
The additional tracks between Sunshine and the CBD would enable more trains to run most likely through a new tunnel that would be part of Melbourne Airport Rail Link.
The Western Rail Plan will also look at express fast rail services on the Geelong and Ballarat lines, including the potential full electrification of these lines with new electric regional rolling stock.
The Government has already established a Geelong Fast Rail Reference Group that includes community representatives living in and around Geelong, along with stakeholders from a range of areas. The group will help Rail Projects Victoria assess fast rail options as part of the Western Rail Plan, with wider community consultation to begin in later this year.
Rail Projects Victoria has already begun a programme of investigations and technical studies to better understand existing conditions along the Melton, Werribee, Wyndham Vale and Geelong corridors.
Staging of the Western Rail Plan is being considered alongside the planning underway for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link business case, which is due in 2020.