AUSTRALIA: Victoria Premier Denis Napthine announced an investment package of A$2bn to A$2·5bn for the Pakenham and Cranbourne suburban lines in Melbourne on March 6.

The package includes 25 new EMUs, resignalling, a new depot at Pakenham East, rebuilding three stations and the removal of four level crossings as well as studies for the removal of five more. The programme is expected to increase capacity on these routes by 30%.

According to Napthine, the improvements will allow 18 trains/h to be operated at peak times instead of the current 16, increasing the number of passengers carried by 4 500/h. Annual capacity will increase by 2 million passengers.

‘The Pakenham and Cranbourne rail corridor serves one in 10 Melburnians and by delivering this project we will provide a more frequent and reliable journey for passengers on both the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines. V/Line Gippsland commuters will also benefit from a more reliable journey with new signalling providing a smoother journey through the metropolitan area.’

Construction is due to begin in 2015 and is expected to take five years to complete. The Metro Trains consortium of MTR, John Holland Construction and UGL Rail Services has been appointed as contractor.