Works on train lines between Bendigo and Echuca will form part of the state government budget for the next financial year, Victoria’s premier and transport minister have said.
A $91 million cash injection will see signalling upgrades and track works carried out along the Bendigo line, part of what the government is calling its “regional rail revival” package.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Bendigo East representative Jacinta Allan revealed the almost $1.5 billion rail investment on Sunday ahead of this week’s budget announcement, a move they said would create 1000 new jobs.
Work done to the signalling systems between Bendigo, Eaglehawk and Epsom would allow the government to meet its obligations under the Bendigo Metro project, the transport minister said.
“This will mean we can deliver extra services,” Ms Allan said.
Track work from Bendigo to Echuca will mean travelling speeds will increase along the route, shortening travel times and making it possible for more services to run.
Echuca services have failed to meet punctuality targets for five consecutive months and buses replaced all trains between Bendigo and the northern town for most of April while track works were completed.
“It’s the next step in the dedicated train system we’re building for Bendigo, and our revival of rail in Victoria’s north and across the state,” Ms Allan said.
The state government last year added extra peak-hour services for Bendigo and implemented the first stage of Bendigo Metro, adding 10 weekday services to Epsom station and more mid-week trips to Kangaroo Flat.
The government also announced last month its late night coach trial to Bendigo would be made permanent.
The package will be funded by a $1.46 billion Victorian entitlement from the federal government’s asset recycling initiative, one which gives 15 per cent of asset sales back to the states.
Victoria’s is owed the money after the sale of the Port of Melbourne, although there was some disagreement last year between the two tiers of government over the figure to be paid.
“It's Victoria's money,” Ms Allan said.
“It’s what we're entitled to it under a partnership that was signed (by state and federal governments).”