Fast Rail contracts awarded
CONTRACTS to upgrade 500route-km in the Australian state of Victoria were signed on June 25. The A$550m project to expand regional passenger services covers four corridors, linking Melbourne to Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Traralgon via the Latrobe Valley. The work to allow trains to operate at up to 160 km/h includes the laying of over 400000 concrete sleepers and the installation of modern signalling.
State Premier Steve Bracks said they were 'the biggest rail construction contracts in regional Victoria's history'. The Thiess-Alstom consortium has been selected to upgrade the Ballarat and Geelong lines, with John Holland and Transfield selected for the Bendigo and Latrobe Valley routes.
Work is due to start by November 1, for completion by mid-2005. The Kyneton - Bendigo line will be reduced from double to single track, and a major deviation will be built between Millbrook and Dunnstown on the Ballarat route.
Services will be worked by a fleet of 160 km/h DMUs which V/Line Passenger has ordered from Bombardier. Fastest journey times from Melbourne to Geelong will fall to 45min, Ballarat to 64min, Bendigo to 84min and Traralgon 95 min.
A complementary project will see the laying of optic fibre communications links to carry signalling data plus external internet and communications services. The stations at Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo are also to be revitalised under a separate programme.
- Freight Australia held a ceremony in Melbourne on June 28 to commission the first of its 4000hp V class diesel locos built by EDI Rail and General Motors. The company proposed a $140m partnership with the government to upgrade track and signalling on key freight routes from Mildura to Geelong, Ararat and Portland. Transport Minister Peter Batchelor confirmed that A$500000 would be spent on the Dynon freight terminal.