The Prime Minister and the Premier of Victoria welcomed the announcement of funding for the new $4.3 billion Regional Rail Express - the biggest single investment in the metropolitan rail project since the city loop was built and the first major new rail line for metropolitan Melbourne in 80 years.
The project involves:
- a 40 kilometre dual track link from West Werribee to central Melbourne's Southern Cross Station via Sunshine;
construction of a new rail line from Werribee to Deer Park;
- new stations at Tarneit and Wyndham Vale;
- activating and lengthening Platforms 15 and 16 at Southern Cross station;
- duplication of existing tracks between Sunshine and Kensington; and
at least four grade separations (separating road and rail) - so that no new level crossings are created by the project.
The project will support up to 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, according to the Victorian Government, which will boost economic activity in Melbourne and regional Victoria during the global recession.
Works on the initial stage of the project at Southern Cross Station will commence in August 2009;
The project is intended to submit a planning scheme amendment to reserve the land for the corridor in 2010; and Major works will begin on the new track in 2010.
The project will deliver capacity for an extra 9,000 regional and suburban passengers every hour.
By segregating V line regional rail services from metro rail services it will also allow regional rail services to run express into Melbourne, increasing transport capacity and reliability for Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo regional rail services.
The project is critical to servicing Victoria's growing regional population, which will add almost half a million people in the next 30 years:
Population of Barwon Region (Geelong and surrounds) is projected to increase by more than 125,000 people to 395,528 between 2006 and 2036.
Population of Loddon Region (Bendigo and surrounds) is projected to increase by more than 86,000 people to 261,524 between 2006 and 2036.
Population of Central Highlands Region (Ballarat and surrounds) is projected to increase by more than 62,000 people to 210,229 people between 2006 and 2036.
The Federal Government will invest $3.2 billion in this important project.
The Australian Government has also committed $40 million to pre-construction work for the East-West Rail Tunnel - a major new underground rail tunnel.
The East-West Rail Tunnel's stage one will see the construction of a two-track tunnel between Dynon and St Kilda Road at Domain, with stops at Melbourne Central and Flinders Street and new stations at Parkville and St Kilda Road.
It will support an additional 120 trains during peak periods each day, or an additional 84,000 commuters. Construction on the tunnel is expected to commence in 2012 and is scheduled for completion in 2018.
These investments are part of the Federal Government's $22 billion infrastructure investment in the 2009-10 Budget, which includes rail, roads, ports, energy, broadband, and health and education infrastructure.
The Australian Government's nation-building initiatives include $7.9 billion in road and rail infrastructure in Victoria.