The Liberal Nationals plan to revolutionise Victoria’s passenger rail network by delivering European-style high-speed rail right across Victoria, but the details are a little sketchy at this stage.
“Melbourne’s population squeeze is putting enormous stress on our roads, public transport, schools and hospitals and that impacts everyone’s quality of life,” LNP opposition leader Matthew Guy said.
“Unplanned, unmanaged population growth is killing Melbourne’s liveability.”
Bringing Victoria’s cities closer together with European-style high-speed rail is the cornerstone of the Liberal Nationals’ plan to ease the population squeeze by decentralising jobs and the population.
European-style high-speed rail to regional cities would also give Victorians more options for affordable housing, more lifestyle choices and more employment opportunities.
Reaching speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour, Victoria’s new high-speed rail network is claimed to be the fastest in Australia.
The High-Speed Rail Project would see the rebuilding of much of Victoria’s current Class 1 track to 200 kilometres per hour operation as well as major track improvements on every other passenger rail line.
High-speed rail would almost halve travel times between Melbourne and Geelong and between Melbourne and Traralgon and, within the first term of a Liberal Nationals Government, travel times between Geelong and Melbourne would be slashed to just 32 minutes, an improvement of 26 minutes on the current timetable, the LNP press release says.
This $15 billion to $19 billion super-infrastructure project would be planned and built in three stages over the next ten years.
Detail a bit sketchy, says Labor
The Victorian Labor Government, however, pointed out uncertainties in the opposition leader’s on-radio explanation of the plan, where he was unable to quantify the expenses involved.
MITCHELL: How much does it cost for a kilometre of that track?
GUY: It’s about a million dollars a kilometre if you’re taking out signalling and a range of others.
MITCHELL: For the fast track? It’s a million dollars a kilometre?
GUY: Mmm, there’s more to it, much more to it than that – that’s just talking about your ballast, and uh.. stone, and sleepers, and rail but there’s more to it than that.
MITCHELL: So all up, what’s it cost for the 200km track?
GUY: Well… at the moment you’ve got to upgrade your class one track, it’s a bit more technical than just saying what’s the cost from here to there… You’ve actually got a whole bunch of variables as to where you’re building and what kind of ballast you’re going to use and if you’re going over certain kind of soils and clays and the rest.
ON TICKET COST
MITCHELL: How much will tickets cost? How much will they go up?
GUY: Ha ha ha, I haven’t thought that far ahead!
ON LAND ACQUISITION
MITCHELL: Will you need to acquire land?
GUY: No, you’re using existing reservation.
[NB. The existing rail corridor has curves, angles, and grades not capable of running 200km/h trains.]
ON GEELONG RAIL BY 2022 AND INTERACTION WITH AIRPORT RAIL (NOT OPERATIONAL UNTIL AT LEAST 2027)
MITCHELL: How do you get the Geelong train there faster – you’d reduce the number of stops?
GUY: Well, you can put on an express service which doesn’t stop to complement your existing services, that’s the first instance, the second instance is obviously using the new Airport Rail Lines from Sunshine-in and then adding extra tracks to Wyndham Vale, and that would then give you express lines out.
MITCHELL: Will this affect the Air Rail Link – the link to the Airport?
GUY: No! Quite the contrary, it would complement it. And we would use some of those tracks. Actually I’ve been watching this with great interest I think those express tracks from Sunshine are part of this solution.
CHAVASTEK: Where will the tunnels be on the Gippsland line?
GUY: I’m not going to pre-empt that.
CHAVASTEK: Surely you know.
GUY: This is about six hours old, give me a chance, Nicole.