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Gippsland train commuters would substantially benefit from faster rail services if additional tracks or passing loops were provided on the metropolitan corridor between Pakenham and Dandenong, according to the Nationals Member for Gippsland.

Darren Chester, who is also the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, made the comments as the Federal Government released its Faster Rail Prospectus.

The prospectus encourages state governments and private entities to bid for co-funding for business cases to provide faster or more frequent passenger rail services.

”Enabling trains to travel faster on urban and regional corridors is a priority under the plan,” Mr Chester said. “The congested Pakenham-Dandenong corridor is an example of a line suited to upgrades, but any bid would need Victorian Government involvement as it owns the tracks.”

The Federal Government had made $10 billion available over 10 years for urban and regional rail upgrades across Australia.

”The Federal Government is already providing the majority of the $530 million for the Gippsland Line upgrades, which will improve the reliability of existing services,” Mr Chester said.

“A total of $530 million will be spent replacing the Avon River rail bridge at Stratford and duplicating sections between Traralgon and Bunyip to allow faster and more frequent services for passengers in the east.

“For the many commuters in Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley who go to Melbourne regularly, faster rail has the potential to significantly improve their quality of life by allowing them to spend more time at home.
“Shorter travel times between regional areas and the city can also revitalise small communities by enabling people to move to regional areas, but keep their job in the city.”

The Faster Rail Prospectus is part of the Government’s record investment in passenger rail announced in the 2017/18 Budget.

Both state governments and the private sector, including consortia arrangements, can submit high-level stage one proposals before October 13, 2017.

The best three proposals will receive Australian Government co-funding towards business case development, with the final business cases then progressing to Infrastructure Australia for assessment.

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