Photo: Wikimedia/Thomas Hobley

A three-car VLocity DMU arrives at Traralgon working a regional service on the Gippsland route

AUSTRALIA: Rail Projects Victoria has finalised an A$300m contract with the VicConnect Alliance of Decmil, UGL and Arup to undertake the Gippsland Rail Upgrade project, which will improve the regional line between Melbourne, Traralgon and Bairnsdale, southeast of Melbourne.

Forming part of Victoria’s A$4bn Regional Rail Revival programme, the package is being funded jointly by the state and national governments; work is due to be completed by the end of 2022. It will allow V/Line regional trains to run to Traralgon every 40 min at off-peak times, connecting with cross-city suburban services at Pakenham, where a new station is being built at Pakenham East.


Trains began using the new Avon River bridge at Stratford in December, after the two-year project was completed three months early.

The work follows completion of a new bridge to carry the line over the Avon River at Stratford, near Bairnsdale, removing a 10 km/h speed limit over the old structure. New passing loops are to be built at Bunyip and Longwarry, and that at Morwell will be lengthened. Additional platforms will be built at all three stations, and the second platform at Traralgon restored to use. An improved bus-rail interchange will be provided at Morwell. Drainage works will be undertaken along the whole route, and level crossings upgraded. This will include the first trial in Victoria of a solar-powered wireless level crossing detection system, at Farrells Lane in Stratford.

The alliance had been selected as preferred bidder in December. Announcing the finalisation of the contract on March 16, Cimic Group subsidiary UGL valued its share of the package at around A$124m, while Decmil expects to earn A$140m.

Enabling works are already underway, with initial signalling and track inspections undertaken during a February blockade for level crossing removal in the Melbourne suburbs. Construction is expected to ramp up over the next few months.

‘This investment in the Gippsland Line is all about improving train services for people in the region, now and into the future’, said Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. ‘This major package of works will deliver even more benefits for passengers and local industry while driving our economic recovery.’

Victoria’s Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan emphasised that the consortium was expected prioritise the deployment of local workers and subcontractors. She said the project would create ‘more than 500 vital local jobs for eastern Victoria’, providing a boost to the local economy.