The Stronger, Together report, commissioned by the City of Greater Geelong, proposes a fully-electrified commuter rail network between Melbourne and Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton and Latrobe. The 200 km/h network would also service Tullamarine and Avalon airports, as well as interim towns.
It says all the regional fast rail lines, except Latrobe, can be constructed within the AU$10bn already allocated by the Victorian and Commonwealth governments to the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.
The report, which draws on the input of urban planners, transport and rail experts, says that the project is affordable and can be delivered to Geelong and Ballarat within 5-7 years.
“Conversely, if Tullamarine Fast Rail is designed without regional fast rail functionality in mind, this could shut out forever the ability to change the Melbourne-regional spatial relationship for the better,” it says.
The network would be planned and built in parallel with the Airport Rail Link tunnel, Sunshine Station and metropolitan suburban track duplications, it says. This would allow fast regional services such as Geelong and Ballarat to begin operating within around six years, in line with likely Melbourne Airport Rail Link delivery timeframes, it adds. A longer design and construction timeframe would be required for Latrobe.
The detailed document was commissioned by City of Greater Geelong, to build on the Victorian Government’s commitment to plan for a 200km/h fast rail service to Geelong and Ballarat.