Rail Futures’ priorities in the 2018-19 Victorian Government Budget

Rail Futures is an independent non-partisan group formed to advocate cost-effective rail and intermodal solutions for public transport and freight problems based on sound commercial, economic and social reasoning. Rail Futures' members include experienced rail professionals, urban planners, engineers and economists. These are key priorities in Rail Futures' 2018-19 Victorian State Government Budget Submission.

Very High Priority: Geelong line. RFI believes it is critical to duplicate the single line and upgrade signalling between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds. The single line connecting South Geelong, Marshall and Waurn Ponds is a major source of late trains which has a knock-on effect, often for several hours, and affects the Ballarat line as well as Geelong services. Funding for planning has been allocated and RFI recommends full implementation of the project in the 2018-19 Budget. RFI also recommends construction of the Waurn Ponds Stabling and Maintenance Facility which was funded in the 2015-16 Budget. RFI also contends that the planned tunnel duplication between Geelong and South Geelong has no operational justification within the medium term. Estimated cost over three years: $215 million

Very High Priority: Regional Rail Link. The new Tarneit and Wyndham Vale stations - with more to come in the Regional Rail Link corridor - is boosting passenger demand in this high-growth area. The only practical option to meet this extra demand is the use of electrified metropolitan trains, either High-Capacity Metropolitan Trains (HCMTs) or extended-length Xtrapolis trains. If this is not done, burgeoning demand will overwhelm regional trains to the detriment of V/Line passengers from Geelong and beyond. This project - anticipated at the outset of RRL - should be implemented as soon as possible and is completely independent of the Melbourne Metro project. Est cost over three years: $600 million

Very High Priority: Ballarat corridor. Stage 1 electrification Deer Park to Melton. The rapid population increase between the Melbourne CBD and Melton justifies electrification to Melton as soon as possible. To date, it has been assumed that this cannot be done until completion of Melbourne Metro (MM), however, a scheme has been devised to allow an interim electrified service to Melton in conjunction with electrification to Wyndham Vale using the RRL corridor to Deer Park. The remaining works (Stage 2) including a grade-separated junction at Sunshine and quadruplication Sunshine to Melton would still follow MM completion. Est cost Stage 1 over three years: $400 million

Very High Priority: Regional rolling stock - VLocity sets. Given the constraint of track capacity in the Melbourne area (including on Regional Rail Link), the current commitment to buy an extra 39 VLocity carriages, creating a total fleet of 88 x 3-car sets, is around the maximum number of sets that can be effectively utilised. Subsequently, the most expedient solution to meeting an ever-growing overcrowding problem on regional trains, particularly on the Geelong line, is to increase seating capacity by ordering 40 to 50 intermediate carriages, allowing about half the VLocity fleet to be progressively expanded from 3-car to 4-car sets from 2019. The greater flexibility also would enable regional train sizes to be more accurately aligned with passenger demand by allowing 3, 4, 6, 7 or 8-car consists, with lower operating costs. The option of 4-car consists would deliver about 40% more peak period capacity per train path (up to 8 cars with 624 seats compared to 444 in 6 cars) and allow 4-car sets instead of 6-car sets in shoulder or off-peak times. Est cost $240 million to $300 million (funded by leasing costs via VicTrack).