A $19 billion plan to upgrade Victoria’s regional rail network has been unveiled by the state opposition in its bid to win next month’s election.
Liberal leader Matthew Guy says the 10-year plan will feature European-style fast trains travelling at 200km/h, making a trip from Geelong to Melbourne in 32 minutes.
“If elected in November, a Liberal-Nationals government will focus on the biggest rebuild of our country rail network in our country’s history,” Mr Guy said on Wednesday.
Melbourne’s growth is unsustainable and the rail plan is a key means to reduce pressure, he added.
An initial injection of $3 billion over four years would kickstart the project, with the speedy service from Geelong expected to be achieved in that time, Mr Guy said.
“We will start the Geelong and Ballarat lines first, with the Geelong line to be completed in the first term principally because these are the lines under greatest congestion strain.”
The plan can be achieved without entering new debt and would be fully costed before next month’s state election, the Liberal leader said. A business case is needed.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told 3AW Mr Guy had not asked for cash for the proposed rail network, but he was happy to discuss it.
Premier Daniel Andrews said Labor was already upgrading every regional Victorian rail line.
“We’re actually delivering that right now, creating hundreds of jobs and getting the work that needs to be done actually completed,” he told reporters.
The Property Council of Australia praised the plan to futureproof the state, but admitted the proposed cost and time frame were challenges.
Roads Australia, a peak national body for road and transport infrastructure, welcomed news of development in the sector but warned it was important to “clinically and critically” examine the projects to get Victorians value for money.