A historic $530 million investment in the Gippsland Line has been secured as part of a $1.6 billion Victorian infrastructure commitment by the Turnbull-Joyce Coalition Government, Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has announced.
Mr Chester, the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, said the Commonwealth and Victorian government had settled on an agreed scope of works, with the Victorian Government contributing $150 million.
“As a local MP and as Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, I am proud to announce the Federal and State governments have settled a $1.6 billion package of works to upgrade infrastructure in Victoria with a focus on regional rail,” Mr Chester said.
“This will include $435 million for the Gippsland Line, and an additional $95 million to replace the old Avon River Bridge at Stratford.”
The funding comes after lengthy negotiations between Mr Chester, and Victorian Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan.
“I’ve said all along that the Victorian Government needed to provide detailed plans and make a contribution to the package: that’s been achieved following discussions over recent weeks with State Minister Jacinta Allan,” Mr Chester said.
“Importantly, the Gippsland works will mean 400 jobs in the Latrobe Valley, and more frequent train services to and from Melbourne.
“The real winner from this package is the regional rail passengers who have been calling on these upgrades for a long time now.”
The package of works for Gippsland will include:
• Bunyip-Longwarry duplication
• Moe duplication
• Morwell duplication extension and second platform at Morwell
• A second platform at Traralgon, and relocation of train stable.
• Drainage upgrades for the Morwell River crossing
• Upgrades to level crossings
• A replacement of the Avon River Bridge at Stratford, which dates back to 1877.
Mr Chester said he would seek assurances from the Victorian Government that suitably qualified locals would have the opportunity to apply for the jobs created by the record investment.
The Gippsland Line works are part of a broader $1.52 billion package for regional rail, in addition to $30 million towards an Airport Rail Link to Tullamarine.
Mr Chester acknowledged the advocacy of his Nationals state colleagues, Russell Northe, Melina Bath, Danny O’Brien and Tim Bull, in addition to the support of local councils.