PLANS TO invest A$1·5bn in transport infrastructure over the next three years were announced by the Premier of Victoria Steve Bracks on February 28. Bids are to be called this year for redevelopment of Melbourne's Spencer Street station as a multi-modal interchange. It will also be the terminus for the rail link to Tullamarine Airport, for which the government expects to select a private sector partner later this year.
Freight lines are also highlighted for improvement, including an A$50m link to Melbourne's Webb Dock and a standard-gauge route into the port of Geelong. Up to A$40m has been reserved for conversion of freight routes to standard gauge, starting with lines to Wangaratta, Benalla and Yarrawonga.
A$80m has been allocated for improving road and rail links to regional towns including Ballarat, Bendigo, Traralgon and Geelong, and the government will also look at reinstating passenger services to Mildura, Bairnsdale and Ararat.
On March 16 National Express Group confirmed the preferred builders for new rolling stock that it is ordering for its three Victorian franchises. Adtranz is to assemble 29 two-car DMUs for the V/Line Passenger regional services at its local Dandenong plant. Siemens will build 59 Combinos for Swanston Trams and 62 three-car EMUs for Bayside Trains.