The upcoming Victorian budget will invest $100 million for detailed planning and design works to separate regional and metro services on the Geelong and Ballarat lines.
The Western Rail Plan will also look at express fast rail services on the Geelong and Ballarat lines and includes the potential full electrification of the lines with new electric regional rolling stock.
By separating the lines, the Victorian Government aims to provide services with fewer stops, faster trips and less crowding.
“The Western Rail Plan is one of the vital projects our growing city and state needs – electrifying the rail lines to the west to run more services to our booming suburbs and a step towards fast rail to Geelong and Ballarat,” Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said.
Technical works will continue to deliver the two new electrified metro lines to Melton and Wyndham Vale, which could potentially become the western section of the Suburban Rail Loop.
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Additional tracks between Sunshine and the CBD would enable more trains to run potentially through a new tunnel as part of the Melbourne Airport rail link.
The Victorian Government has already established a Geelong Fast Rail Reference Group which includes community representatives and stakeholders.
The group will aid Rail Projects Victoria asses fast rail options with wider community consultation to begin later this year.
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.
“It’s part of our suburban rail and road blitz that is slashing congestion, boosting services and creating thousands of jobs,” Allan said.