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The first contractor has been announced and preparatory works are underway for the new rail bridge over the Avon River in Stratford.

Local company OnePlan Land Development Group, which has an office in Bairnsdale, has been appointed to begin cadastral surveying on Monday.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said the Avon River bridge replacement was part of a $530 million Gippsland Line Upgrade which will deliver improved train services for Gippsland passengers and create hundreds of jobs.

Mr Chester championed the project and secured the funding when he was Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. It was the first time the Federal Government had invested directly in rail in Gippsland.

“The Federal Government is providing $86 million toward the $95 million Avon River Bridge replacement, which will allow the train to travel through Stratford at faster speeds,” Mr Chester.

“This is part of the $504 million Federal Government funding that I announced last year for the Gippsland Rail Line Upgrades, which will also include level crossing upgrades and track duplication works.

“These works will create hundreds of jobs in Gippsland and importantly improve the speed and reliability of train services across Gippsland.”

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