Fast rail vow ‘impossible’

Transport Minister Jacinta Allan.

By Luke Voogt

A 32-minute train to Geelong by 2022 is “impossible”, State Government has said, following a coalition election promise of high-speed rail across Victoria.

Opposition leader Matthew Guy on Wednesday announced plans for “European-style” high-speed rail across Victoria.

But Transport Minister Jacinta Allan rubbished the proposal, saying it raised “more questions than answers”.

“The Leader of the Opposition is unable to answer these questions,” she said.

“When it comes to the Liberal party and regional rail you know they just cannot be trusted.”

The “little-detailed” plan “unravelled” on Wednesday morning as ABC presenter John Faine questioned Mr Guy on how he would deliver fast rail to Gippsland, Ms Allen said.

“He had three different positions in the space of three minutes about how he would deliver his proposed policy to the Gippsland community.”

Based on information from the Department of Transport, the earliest possible delivery time for fast rail to Geelong was 2025, a spokesperson for Minister Allan told the Indy.

“Delivering a 32-minute service to Geelong by 2022 is impossible,” they said.

“Based on standard government delivery timeframes, construction on these projects would not begin until 2020/21, and the travel time savings could not be realised until 2025 at the earliest.”

The proposal would require two new metro tracks to Wyndham Vale, a new rail tunnel into Melbourne CBD and new trains, the spokesperson said.

A new metro tunnel would take five to seven years to complete (by 2025 to 2028) and a new western line required a similar time frame, the spokesperson said.

Mr Guy announced the plan on Wednesday to “decentralise” jobs and population throughout Victoria.

The “European-style” high-speed rail was the “cornerstone” of the coalition’s plan to ease “population squeeze”, he said.

“Reaching speeds of up to 200km/h, Victoria’s new high speed rail network will be the fastest in Australia.”

A coalition government, if elected, would build the “$15 billion to $19 billion super-infrastructure project” in three stages over the next ten years, Mr Guy said.

“Within the first term of a Liberal Nationals Government, travel times between Geelong and Melbourne will be slashed to just 32 minutes, an improvement of 26 minutes on the current timetable.

“Building European-style high-speed rail will also take more cars off our roads, and that will save lives and cut traffic congestion.”

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