Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack and Victorian Minister for Public Transport and Major Projects Jacinta Allan have signed a bilateral agreement in relation to Inland Rail, making Victoria the first state to sign up to the Inland Rail project.
This agreement includes a commitment to negotiate a new, long-term lease with the Australian Rail Track Corporation and to support the extension of the corridor to accommodate any changes to the North East Rail Line alignment required to support the delivery of Inland Rail.
On completion, the Inland Rail Project will create a direct rail freight connection between Melbourne and Brisbane capable of moving double-stacked freight containers. Inland Rail will, they say, deliver almost $7 billion in additional state gross product through construction and in the first 50 years of operation.
Mr McCormack said this was a great step forward on a project that will create jobs and investment opportunities throughout regional Victoria.
“I’m pleased to reach agreement with Victoria, the first state to get behind Inland Rail which will improve freight travel times for local farmers and producers and support thousands of jobs,” Mr McCormack said.
“Once complete, Inland Rail will create thousands of jobs nationwide and return $16 billion to the national economy during the delivery phase and the first 50 years of operation.”
While the Inland Rail Project is a freight project, both governments acknowledge the North East Rail Line is currently used for both passenger and freight services and that this mixed use is intended to continue.
Victorian Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan thanked the Deputy Prime Minister for acting quickly to release the funds which will provide much needed upgrades to every regional rail line, through the Regional Rail Revival program.
“I thank the Deputy Prime Minister for acting quickly, so we can now get on with the job of upgrading track, stations and signalling throughout regional Victoria, to run modern trains and get people home sooner,” Ms Allan said.
Now an agreement on Inland Rail has been reached, money for the $1.7 billion Regional Rail Revival program will begin to be delivered to Victoria.
The works will be delivered under the Regional Rail Revival Program that will provide an upgrade to every regional passenger rail line in Victoria.
Planning and defining the scope of works has already begun to ensure these projects meet the transport needs of passengers and regional communities, and the Victorian and Australian Governments reaching agreement on the first stage of works, with some work already underway.
As part of the Regional Rail Revival program, a joint Victorian Government and Commonwealth Government steering committee was established to look at the work needed to upgrade the North East Line. The steering committee resolved the $100 million committed was not enough to upgrade the track to run new modern trains, therefore the Commonwealth Government will contribute an additional $135 million to upgrade the track to at least a Class 2 standard.
“I am also pleased that in addition to the $1.57 billion Regional Rail Revival package, the Commonwealth will increase its contribution by $135 million to upgrade the North East Rail Line to a class 2 standard to allow faster, modern trains and give communities along the North East line the services they expect and deserve,” Ms Allan said.
The Victorian Government has committed to purchase new trains for the corridor once works on the track are complete.
The Regional Rail Revival program will, they say, deliver more frequent, reliable services and support over 1000 jobs.