The Victorian Government appointed VicConnect consortium to deliver major package of works and rail upgrades between Pakenham and Traralgon for the Gippsland Line upgrade project which will enable more frequent and reliable train services. The consortium, comprising UGL Limited, Decmil and Arup was announced as the preferred contractor in December 2020.
The improvements include track duplication between Bunyip and Longwarry, the extension of Morwell crossing loop, upgrading level crossings and signalling system. In addition, the project covers the construction of the second platforms at three stations along the line and reactivating the second platform at Traralgon allowing trains to travel every 40–minute between the peaks and give passengers a more reliable service.
The project also includes upgrades to drainage structures at Morwell River and a Victorian-first trial of solar-powered wireless level crossing detection technology at Farrells Lane in Stratford.
The project has a total value of AUD 530 million (USD 410.7 million).
The Victorian Government is also delivering a new station at Pakenham East including dedicated V/Line tracks, to avoid congestion and improve reliability – and V/Line passengers will be able to connect at Pakenham for a train directly through to Melbourne Airport from 2029, as planning work continues the Australian and Victorian governments’ Melbourne Airport Rail project.
Early works for the project are already underway with the contractor carrying out signalling and track inspections while trains were not running in February due to level crossing removal and V/Line maintenance works.
Site investigations and surveying will continue in the coming weeks at Bunyip, Longwarry, Morwell and Traralgon to support major construction ramping up in the coming months.
The project will bring benefits for local suppliers and local employment. For example, “more than 25 local contractors and suppliers taking part in construction of the new Avon River Bridge, we’re putting local workers at the heart of this project,” Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said. Until now, the works created more than 500 vital local jobs for Eastern Victoria.
The VicConnect consortium will host industry briefings in the coming months for local contractors and suppliers looking for opportunities to participate in the project.
“Our contractors will open a project office in Morwell later this year – making sure we can work closely with the local community throughout construction and get Gippsland businesses involved,” Victorian Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing said.
The Gippsland Line Upgrade is being delivered as part of the Regional Rail Revival programme, which is upgrading every regional passenger rail line in Victoria and creating 3,000 jobs. It is also implemented under the AUD 110 billion (USD 85 billion) nationwide infrastructure plan.