Travel times between Melbourne and Geelong could potentially halve as the Federal Government commits $2 billion to build a fast rail line.
The rail will be the first of its kind in Australia, allowing trains to travel as speeds of up to 160 kilometres per hour and cut the 80 kilometres journey time to 32 minutes.
It is part of the Federal Government’s plan for Australia’s future population, which aims to take pressure off the big cities and support the growth of the regions. The Melbourne-Geelong fast rail would be the first of multiple similar rail lines to be built over the next 20 years between capital cities and surrounding regional centres.
The 20-year fast rail plan will invest $40 million for detailed assessments for five additional corridors, which include Brisbane to the Gold Coast, Melbourne to Albury-Wodonga, Melbourne to Traralgon, Sydney to Wollongong, and Sydney to Parkes.
A National Fast Rail Agency will also be created to oversee the works, determine priorities based on the assessments and to work with state governments, communities and the provide sector to provide finance solutions.
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the investment in infrastructure would give time back to commuters and enable more people to live in our regions and work in our cities.
“This is all part of our plan to manage population growth that I announced this week to take the pressure off our big cities like Melbourne and make our regional cities like Geelong even more attractive places to live and work,” Morrison said.
“As our population grows, fast rail networks are crucial to easing the congestion pressures in our cities and shaping Australia’s future.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said faster rail services meant greater accessibility to regional Australia.
“Faster rail services not only help to ease road congestion, it also means more people can access regional centres such as Geelong and wider region with reliable transport connections, which helps to generate more growth opportunities, beyond the city limits,” McCormack said.
Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population Alan Tudge said the fast rail plan was a critical part of the Government’s Population Plan.
“Fast rail from the big capitals to the regional cities eases the pressure off the big cities while supporting the growth of the regions,” Tudge said.
“Geelong is a strong growing regional centre, but transport connectivity to Melbourne is constrained by existing infrastructure.
“During peak hour, trains are often full at key stations such as Wyndham Vale and Tarneit, with passenger numbers exceeding capacity on the line. Services on the Geelong Line also suffer frequent delays,” he said.