A fast rail service connecting Melbourne to
key regional cities could be funded and built in conjunction with the $10
billion Melbourne Airport Rail Link, a new report has found.
The Stronger,Together report, commissioned by the City of Greater Geelong, proposes a
fully-electrified commuter rail network between Melbourne and Geelong,
Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton and Latrobe.
The 200 km/h network would also service
Tullamarine and Avalon airports, as well as interim towns.
The report draws on the input of leading
urban planners, transport and rail experts to determine that the project is
affordable and can be delivered to Geelong and Ballarat within 5-7 years.
It says all regional fast rail lines,
except Latrobe, can be constructed within the $10 billion already allocated by
the Victorian and Commonwealth governments to the Melbourne Airport Rail
if Tullamarine Fast Rail is designed without regional fast rail functionality in mind, this could shut out forever
the ability to change the Melbourne-regional spatial relationship for the
network would be planned and built in parallel with the Airport Rail Link
tunnel, Sunshine station and metropolitan suburban track duplications.
fast regional services such as Geelong and Ballarat to begin operating within
around six years, in line with likely Airport Rail Link delivery timeframes.
A longer design and construction timeframe would be
required for Latrobe.
The detailed document
was commissioned by City of Greater Geelong, to build on the Victorian
Government’s commitment to plan for 200km/h fast rail to Geelong and Ballarat.
Through the New Spirit of Progress
Committee, Geelong is leading a coalition of regional cities determined to
accelerate action on fast rail through a united vision.
The fast rail project would transform the
state, stimulating growth in regional Victoria and reducing population pressure
The report argues the network has the
potential to grow regional Victoria’s population by 1 million above current
trend by 2050.
It would provide around 2.7 million
regional Victorians with access to fast rail to Melbourne, with 1.27 million of
those within 35-45 minutes of Southern Cross Station.
About 8000 jobs would be created during
construction, with the high-capacity electric train fleet also providing
manufacturing and maintenance jobs.
The key element is the shared western
Melbourne fast rail tunnel, which would allow Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and
Shepparton trains to shave minutes off their journey and run more
Stronger, Together argues that
it is essential that service frequency and seating capacity is increased to
match reliably-increased demand.
advice suggests eight trains per hour could run in peak periods on the Geelong
line, with express services reaching Melbourne in 35 minutes.
stations would continue to receive services and the line would be extended to
Winchelsea and Colac, bringing the area within daily commuting range of
The City of
Greater Geelong is encouraging Victorian residents to read the Stronger, Together report and provide
their feedback online.
Geelong Mayor Bruce Harwood
and much-appreciated investments from successive governments, regions like
Geelong are getting further away from Melbourne and tougher in commuting terms,
rather than closer and easier.
Some time ago,
we sensed that fast, high-frequency, French-style regional rail might solve
both problems in one commercially, economically and environmentally-productive
suggest much of the vision could be built in parallel with the Melbourne
Airport Rail Link. This means fast rail should not have to wait for another
Geelong Deputy Mayor Peter Murrihy
details how quickly and affordably regional fast rail could move from a vision
into a reality.
economic and environmental benefits of moving to an electrified fast rail
network are enormous.
speed, capacity, frequency and connectivity between cities, airports and towns
will transform the way people move and live in Victoria.
Travel into the
regions will be cut to times now seen in many middle ring metropolitan suburbs,
making Geelong and other regional cities far more attractive to Melbourne