Construction has started on the A$530m ($417m) Gippsland Line Upgrade, which has been designed to provide more regular and reliable train services to passengers in east Victoria, Australia.

The upgrade is part of the A$1.57bn ($1.2bn) Regional Rail Revival (RRR) package, a joint initiative of the Victorian and Australian governments, involving the upgrade of all regional passenger lines in the state.

As part of the works, key geotechnical and site investigations are being carried out at the Avon River rail bridge in Stratford.

More than 50 boreholes and 120 test pits will be drilled near the bridge and in various locations along the Gippsland line over the coming months in order to gain a better idea of ground conditions and soil quality.

Design and construction of the project will include level crossing upgrades, as well as track duplication to untangle bottlenecks and deliver frequent train services. Additional platforms will also be built at Bunyip, Longwarry, Morwell, and Traralgon as part of the project.

“We’re getting things done, delivering the upgrades we need to run new trains and boost services to Gippsland.”

With the replacement of Avon River Bridge, the 10km/h speed limit in this section of track would be eliminated to boost journey times for passengers.

Victoria Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan said: “We’re getting things done, delivering the upgrades we need to run new trains and boost services to Gippsland.

“This is the next step in our Regional Rail Revival, which will boost services, jobs, and communities across the state.”

Planning and environmental approvals are expected to take some time, causing the project scope to be expanded to include upgrades to level crossings between Bairnsdale and Sale.

This would allow the lighter VLocity trains to run on the Bairnsdale line for the first time to extend the life of the bridge.

Furthermore, the project will see the establishment of a site office in Gippsland.