Regional Rail Express, Australia
The Regional Rail Express (RRE) is a 40km dual-track link to be laid in Victoria, in the south-east region of Australia. The RRE will run from West Werribee to Southern Cross station via Sunshine in central Melbourne and also includes a metro rail tunnel.
The RRE will require an investment of $4.3bn. There are a number of railway operators, private and public, operating on government-owned lines in the state of Victoria.
New train services have been planned to meet the increasing rush of passengers travelling from Melbourne's west, Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo areas. The RRE track will allow regional services to directly reach Melbourne without being delayed behind suburban services. About 120 new trains will be added with a total capacity of 90,000 passengers.
The project's major activities include capital works and six platform constructions including renovations. The project work is expected to begin at the end of 2009 and will be completed by 2014. Construction of the RRE track is expected to create more than 2,800 jobs.
The RRE is the first new rail line development project undertaken in the Melbourne region in the last 80 years. The project is a part of the larger Victorian Transport Plan (VTP) launched by the Department of Transport in December 2008, with an aim to improve the existing rail network. The transport plan is one of the largest investments in transport infrastructure development, with $38bn allocated for projects and initiatives.
The project involves upgrading Southern Cross station platforms 15 and 16 as well as developing separate tracks for metro rail services and V/Line passenger services.V/Line is the largest regional public transport operator in Victoria and offers passenger train services across regional Victoria. The upgrade work began in August 2009, while new track construction works will begin after submission of plans in 2010. The track construction works are expected to be completed by 2013.
Other developments under the project include renovation of Sunshine station with more platforms and construction of a new rail bridge over the Maribyrnong River. The RRE also includes construction of a metro rail tunnel linking the Central Business District (CBD) of Melbourne with western suburbs. Wyndham Vale and Tarneit in the western suburbs, along the metro rail route, will have new stations. A new station in the western Werribee region is also being planned.
The track from South Kensington to Southern Cross station will be isolated for the RRE project. The existing track connecting Sunshine to Kensington will be duplicated as an express route that will be operated by V/Line.
The metro rail route construction will separate V/Line regional rail services from metro rail services. The route allows operation of eight-car trains on the Geelong and Bacchus Marsh rail line.
The new rail link to be built for the V/Line passenger trains will run from Werribee, via Tarneit, to the CBD. Geelong trains will join Ballarat, and all the Bendigo trains will take the route through Sunshine and Footscray.
The project will add 20 new trains to provide more capacity for Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo, Werribee, Craigieburn and Sydenham lines. Once the project is complete, the Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo services will have increased capacity and will be able cater to regional as well as suburban passengers.
The transport infrastructure of all projects under the VTP, including the RRE, have been made in accordance with the projected travel demands of 2020 and beyond.
Out of the total investment of $4.3bn estimated, the Federal Government's treasury is funding $3.2bn from the Building Australia Fund (BAF). The State Government of Victoria has allocated $800m towards RRE's V/Line service.
The BAF was established by the Government of Australia in 2008–09. The BAF is a fund guided by the Infrastructure Australia (IA) initiative.
The Infrastructure Australia Act 2008, effective from 9 April 2008, made way for the IA. The initiative caters to the Australian nation's infrastructure needs in terms of funding and implementation. Funds from BAF will be channelled to the projects based on the IA's project priority list. The Regional Rail Link is one of the VTP's priority projects in the IA.