Western rail confusion


Cade Lucas

The status of the Western Rail Plan remains unclear, despite the project surviving the federal government’s infrastructure review released on Wednesday last week.

The review found the rail plan, which involves new electrified train lines for Wyndham Vale and Melton, would continued as proposed, with $30 million allocated for “further planning”.

However, the Geelong Fast Rail project, which the state government had previously indicated needed to happen before the Western Rail Plan, was scrapped.

A spokesperson for federal infrastructure minister Catherine King, said the proposed fast train between Melbourne and Geelong was not a serious project.

“The Coalition’s announcement of Geelong Fast Rail was never properly planned or funded, and therefore it could never really happen – despite a local Senator claiming that it was delivered on a billboard.”

In regards to the future of the Western Rail Plan, the spokesperson said it was the responsibility of the state government.

When contacted, a spokesperson for Premier Jacinta Allan accepted the findings of the review, but failed to provide any details on what the Western Rail Plan could look like without the fast train to Geelong.

“We’re continuing to plan for the future of public transport in Melbourne’s west, with a number of options for further improvements on the Melton and Wyndham Vale under consideration.”

First announced ahead of the 2018 state election, the Western Rail Plan was designed to deliver metro train services to growing suburbs in the outer-west which currently rely on V-Line.

New electrified train lines were to be built to Wyndham Vale and Melton, but were contingent on the Geelong Fast Rail project being completed first.

With Geelong Fast Rail not receiving funding in either of this year’s state or federal budgets, both projects were cast into doubt and while the Western Rail Plan now seems set to continue, there is speculation new electrified train lines won’t be part of it.

In September, The Age reported that documents accessed through Freedom of Information showed that metropolitan train services to Wyndham Vale and Melton would be delivered through Sunshine Station on the Regional Rail Link, rather than an on two new dedicated lines.

Elsewhere, almost $62 million was approved for the the planning and development of a new rail freight terminal in Truganina, but a business case for linking the terminal to the inland rail project had its funding removed.

Construction of the $57 million Ison Road Overpass was also approved.