By Joshua Wells
COMMUTERS along the Seymour line have been given reason to celebrate following the announcement of $235 million of funding on Friday for the North East rail line.
The federal government joined the state government to announce the boost at Seymour Railway Station last week, with new Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormick agreeing to pour in additional funding for the Regional Rail Revival.
Last year, the federal government announced a $100 million upgrade for the North East rail line, which connects to the Seymour line, with the additional $135 million coming on Friday.
The funding will also help fix the Wallan and Donnybrook Railway Stations, as well as upgrade the track to a class 2 standard which could allow upgraded trains to run.
During the announcement, Ms Allan said hoped to put new trains on the line.
“I am also pleased that in addition to the $1.57 billion Regional Rail Revival package, the commonwealth will increase its contribution by $135 million to upgrade the North East Rail Line to a class 2 standard to allow faster, modern trains and give communities along the North East line the services they expect and deserve,” she said.
A steering committee formed between the state and federal governments found the original $100 million fund would not be enough, prompting calls for an extra $135 million which was funded last week.
Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell said in the past the state government had been hamstrung by the slow movements at a federal level but was excited to see the upgrades coming.
“The issue is not new. There are problems with some of the old stations which are not long enough for upgraded trains so now we can finally put new trains on,” he said.
“We have seen thousands of people moving to the area and using the service so now the state has to try catch up.
“There are track works further than Seymour which creates monster problems on the line and there are issues around capacity and speed.”
Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes, who was at the announcement in Seymour, said the upgrade would benefit region and its rail network.
Member for Euroa and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan said the investment was welcome news for many rail users in the north east.
“With proper oversight and planning, it will go a very long way to getting our train service back on track,” Ms Ryan said.
“At a state level, The Nationals have promised to replace all the trains on both the north east line and Shepparton lines with a new, long haul variation on the VLocitys within our first term of government, if we are elected to government later this year.”
Alongside the Regional Rail Revival agreement, the Inland Rail deal will allow works to support the development of Inland Rail to create a freight link between Brisbane and Melbourne.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation spent $3 million to begin upgrading seven bridges around the line last week.