THE AUSTRALIAN state of Victoria shortlisted five consortia in mid-September for the A$550m Fast Rail Links project (RG 10.00 p660). This involves upgrading of 500 route-km on the lines from Melbourne to Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and the LaTrobe Valley.

The five consortia are: Thiess-Alstom Joint Venture, Fastrax Victoria (Leighton Contractors), BLM Consortium (Baulderstone, Hornibrook, Bilfinger+Berger, and Lockheed Martin Australia), Regional Rail Link (John Holland, Transfield) and Works Infrastructure (Downer and EDi).

Premier Steve Bracks said the groups would have until January to finalise their bids, which would be assessed according to project capability, proposed travel times, management of construction issues, cost and completion time. Work is now expected to start next year.