Tuesday, August 17, 2021

The Australian federal and Victorian state governments announced on Saturday that the third stage of upgrades on the Shepparton railway line will commence next month. Their joint press release described this as a “construction blitz on the line”, with the goal of delivering nine daily return services between Melbourne and Shepparton. As of January 31, V/Line operates five return services on weekdays to Shepparton.

From September 4 to September 12, coaches will replace trains to Seymour and Shepparton, during which stage two works will continue on the line, while as part of the stage three upgrades, the crossing loop at Murchison East will be extended by 1.1 kilometres, allowing two six-car V/Line VLocity trains to pass each other.

Outside of these dates, the stage three upgrades will also involve the expansion of a new Shepparton train stabling facility, as well as signalling and track upgrades on the Shepparton railway line. The stabling facility and loop extension, along with stage two upgrades, have been contracted to Coleman Rail and KBR. Stage three is slated for completion by 2023.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, and leader of the National Party of Australia, Barnaby Joyce, said of the upgrades that “the Australian Government provided the funding for stage three to deliver the services Shepparton passengers have been waiting for, and now we’re making sure this work gets underway. Our record $110 billion infrastructure investment is all about delivering projects like this, where the community and the economy will benefit simultaneously.”

A number of local MPs also spoke on the project, with National Party federal MP for Nicholls, Damian Drum, saying that “these upgrades will give Shepparton the fast and frequent rail service befitting its status as a major regional centre.”

Mark Gepp, a Labor state MLC for the Northern Victoria Region (which covers Shepparton) stated that “delivering four extra services to and from Shepparton each day will give people in communities along the line more options for their travel and a train service they can rely on”.

Liberal Democratic MLC for Northern Victoria, Tim Quilty, told Wikinews yesterday via email that “I am very pleased to see the Victorian Government actually invest in rail infrastructure to benefit Northern Victorian communities. More efficient and reliable freight and passenger transport will benefit the city’s economy and help ease traffic on our roads.”

Quilty added that “Shepparton is an important regional centre and this investment should continue to improve transport links – with nine passenger services a day, lots of Northern Victorian towns will be envious of the service Shepparton is going to have,” but also commented on the government’s announcements, remarking that “you have to wonder, though, just how many times they can announce the same project before the next election. It would be great if they would shut up about how they are going to build it, and just get on with it.”

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