PROPOSALS to invest more than A$3bn in the state rail network over the next 10 years were announced by Victoria Premier Steve Bracks and Transport Minister Peter Batchelor on May 17.

The Transport & Liveability Statement envisages investment totalling A$10·5bn; it provides A$2·9bn for rail improvements and A$200m for level crossing upgrading and grade-separation. Much of the funding will go on improvements to the Melbourne suburban network, including station refurbishments. However, the A$500m conversion of the Melbourne - Mildura line to standard gauge has been dropped in favour of a cheaper package of upgrading works. Around A$750m will go on updating the railway communications network.

H On June 1 Victoria’s Essential Services Commission rejected proposals by Pacific National and Connex for managing third-party access to the state’s rail network which they control under long-term leases. The commission expects to put in place by July 1 its own arrangements for enforcing open access and setting track access charges. n