The Victorian state government is upgrading the rail line between Deer Park and Ballarat in what will be a $518 million project to ensure the reliability of services between Melbourne’s outer west and the regional centre of Ballarat.

With Lendlease, Coleman Rail and SMEC currently the preferred bidders for the Ballarat line renewal, the Victorian government has said some of the immediate benefits of the upgrade include paving for the future electrification of the Melton line, the building of passing loops to allow trains to pass each other more quickly, the removal of level crossings and more peak hour commuter train services.

The project will include the duplication of 18 kilometres of track between Deer Park West and Melton; upgrading Rockbank station and extending platforms; additional platforms at Bacchus Marsh and Ballan stations with new pedestrian links between platforms; new stabling facilities at Maddingley; a five kilometre passing loop at Ballan; a four kilometre Spreadeagle passing loop near Millbrook, making it possible to close the existing Bungaree loop and remove five level crossings and the duplication of three kilometres of track east of Warrenheip Junction.

According to Victorian premier Daniel Andrews, “We’re not wasting a moment upgrading the Ballarat line, and every regional passenger line in Victoria.”

“We won the fight to revive regional rail and now we’re getting on with building the projects that regional Victorians need.”

The $1.5 billion funding for this project will come from the Commonwealth, which will also cover a number of other rail projects across Victoria including the:

  • Gippsland rail line ($435 million)
  • North East rail line ($140 million
  • Surf Coast rail, including the Waurn Ponds duplication ($110 million)
  • Warrnambool rail line ($114 million)
  • Bendigo and Echuca rail line ($91)
  • Avon River bridge upgrade ($95 million)
  • Murray Basin freight rail ($20.2 million)
  • Shepparton freight network planning ($10 million)

A final proposal for the rail work is currently being developed, with a contract due to be awarded later this year. The Victorian government has said that major construction will commence in early 2018, with a target completion date by the end of 2019.