A multi-million-dollar upgrade to train services on the North East line can now begin with the Federal Government pledging an additional $135 million in funding.
As part of the Regional Rail Revival program, a joint Victorian Government and Federal Government steering committee was established to look at what was needed to upgrade the line.
The committee resolved the $100 million was not enough to run new modern trains, paving the way for the Federal Government to announce the additional funding to upgrade the track to at least a class two standard.
Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said the government had committed to purchasing new trains for the corridor once works on the track were complete.
Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said design work was already under way on modifications necessary to run VLocity trains on the North East line, to inform a future train order to replace the ageing fleet of carriages.
‘‘We’re getting on with delivering exactly what north-east passengers need — better train services to get them where they need to go,’’ Ms Symes said.
‘‘I’m proud to have been part of the community’s fight for better services, and to know that these services will be delivered.
‘‘This upgrade will deliver better train services to get passengers to their destination sooner — whether that’s to work, school, medical appointments or to visit family and friends.’’
Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said she had been campaigning for rolling stock and track improvements since before her election in 2014 and the investment was welcome news for many rail users in the north-east.
‘‘I commend this investment from the Federal Nationals. With proper oversight and planning, it will go a very long way to getting our train service back on track,’’ Ms Ryan said.
‘‘At a state level, the Nationals have promised to replace all the trains on both the north-east line and Shepparton lines with a new, long haul variation on the VLocitys within our first term of government, if we are elected to government later this year.
‘‘While these trains will be able to run at 130km/h on the current track, the improvements that can now be made to the track from the Federal Government’s commitment will only make the service better.’’
The North East line runs from Melbourne to Albury via Seymour, Benalla, Wangaratta and Wodonga.