Australia’s Victoria Government has announced that the new rail bridge in Stratford is on track for completion ahead of schedule, as part of the Gippsland Line Upgrade.

Trains on the Avon River Bridge will be able to travel on the new structure from December.

The upgrade will allow more frequent passenger services by duplicating track, extending the Morwell crossing loop, and upgrading level crossings and signalling.

As part of the project, second platforms will be added at four stations along the line.

Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said: “We know how vital this is for our regional communities reeling from the impacts of Covid-19, which is why we will continue to deliver projects like this under our record $110bn infrastructure pipeline, which supports local jobs and economies right across the country at a time when it is needed most.”

During the construction blitz, the track and signalling works will be completed to connect the new bridge to the rail line.

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Sections of old railway track and sleepers will also be removed.

Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said that more than 1,100t of concrete had been poured to form the bridge deck. More than 15,000m³ of earth was moved to make its new embankments.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said that the McAlister Street level crossing would continue to be upgraded to feature boom gates and a pedestrian crossing.

This would improve safety for passengers, motorists and pedestrians.

With the new rail bridge in place, trains will be able to travel up to 90km/h.

As the completion is nearing, the final pairs of 60t beams will be lifted into place and the walls attached.

Being delivered as part of the Regional Rail Revival programme, the new rail bridge project is jointly funded with the Australian Government committing $79.45m and the Victorian Government $7.55m.

Construction on other sections of the Gippsland Line Upgrade is set to continue until late 2022.