Work will soon be underway to bring VLocity trains to Victoria’s southwest for the first time, as construction progresses on the overhaul of the Warrnambool Line.
The Australian and Victorian governments today announced major construction on Stage 2 of the Warrnambool Line Upgrade will commence by the end of the year, with the project targeted for completion in late 2023.
Federal Member for Wannon Dan Tehan said the upgrades will be a game-changer for the region.
“This crucial upgrade will see Victorians who use the Warrnambool line moving to their destination safely, efficiently and comfortably,” Mr Tehan said.
“It will also provide more Victorians with better access to Warrnambool and our state’s southwest, which could deliver an economic boom including for our local tourist industry and for the local economy in our recovery from COVID-19.”
Vice versa it will also provide access for South West Victorians to attend events and critical services in Melbourne.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce said the Australian Government was delivering the infrastructure Victorians need and deserve.
“The Australian Government has delivered the funding needed to bring VLocity trains to Warrnambool, and we’re making sure these upgrades get underway as soon as possible for passengers,” Mr Joyce said.
“It’s another example of our record $110 billion investment and our commitment to ensuring the economy will continue to thrive.”
The project will upgrade more than 50 public level crossings on the Warrnambool Line with improved train technology to detect when VLocity trains are approaching and add boom gates to 17 of these crossings to boost safety for motorists and train passengers. Once complete, there will be no unprotected public level crossings on the line.
Passengers and communities along the line have already benefited from the addition of boom gates, bells and flashing lights at 12 level crossings as part of Stage 1 of the Warrnambool Line Upgrade, and a further 22 level crossings thanks to the Victorian Government’s Safer Country Crossings program, making journeys safer for cars, trains and pedestrians.
The stabling facility at Warrnambool Station will also be upgraded to house the longer VLocity trains, allowing them to start and finish their journey at Warrnambool.
Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said modern VLocity trains would deliver more comfortable and accessible journeys for passengers.
“We know passengers on the Warrnambool Line are looking forward to these upgrades, and we’re doing everything we can to deliver them as soon as possible, despite the challenges of the global pandemic,” Ms Allan said.
“The critical planning and design work required to develop the project timelines is now complete, so it’s time to get on with the job of delivering the next stage of this project which will continue to provide important supplier and job opportunities to the region.”
Victorian Member for Western Victoria Gayle Tierney said that it has been a massive engineering effort to ensure we can deliver this project as soon as possible.
Delivery of Stage 2 of the Warrnambool Line Upgrade has been integrated with the work already underway on Stage 1, with timeframes for both stages adjusted to maximise the benefits of the project as well as deliver efficiencies and minimise disruption to communities and passengers.
Work on Stage 1 of the project is continuing, with signalling upgrades between Waurn Ponds and Warncoort on track to be completed in the coming months.
More than 24 kilometres of signalling cable has already been installed, along with eight kilometres of access tracks along the line.
Due to delays in complex signalling design caused by Coronavirus restrictions, including remote working arrangements and delays in the availability of specialist resources, work to commission the upgrades being delivered as part of Stage 1 will take place mid-to-late next year.
The new crossing loop at Boorcan and a fifth-weekday return service between Warrnambool and Melbourne will come into operation following the completion of signalling and commissioning works along the line.
The Warrnambool Line Upgrade is part of the Australian and Victorian governments’ investment of more than $4 billion in Victoria’s regional rail network, which is upgrading every passenger rail line in the state and creating 3,000 jobs.