THE VICTORIA state government has confirmed plans to reinstate a number of regional passenger services radiating from Melbourne. Under the previous state administration, several services were replaced by buses. Trains are due to begin running again to Mildura, Ararat and Bairnsdale in 2003, and to Leongatha in 2004.

Extensive work will be required to bring the freight-only routes back to 130 km/h passenger carrying standards. The state budget announced on May 13 allocates A$32m for infrastructure work, and the operators will receive an annual subsidy of A$12m. The trains are expected to carry 123000 passengers/year.