THE Coalition will invest $633 million to replace the ageing fleet of diesel hauled trains with faster long-haul variants of the successful V/Locity trains if elected.
An order will be placed in June 2019 with the new fleet delivered during the first term of government.
The fleet replacement of 16 new train sets, consisting of 96 new railcars will be built in Victoria as a new variant to suit longer haul country travel.
It is expected there will be six cars per train which will be able to be configured flexibly where required.
This will enable the existing 1980s-era diesel hauled trains to be gradually phased out of service.
Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said this was the first step in the Coalitions plan to revolutionise regional rail.
“Slow and unreliable train services are holding the development of country communities back,” he said.
“We will turbo charge the development of country Victoria, starting with brand new trains.
“Labor has been in government for 14 of the last 18 years and has treated country Victoria like second class citizens.
“We will deliver a modern, safe, and comfortable fleet of new trains for our regional rail network.”
The current position of the Victorian Government on replacement rolling stock for regional lines also means there will be no new trains operating for at least four years according to the Border Rail Action Group.
BRAG said it rejected ‘‘this grim prospect as totally unacceptable’’.
It said this was a stand that would resonate strongly with long suffering rail travellers throughout the region.
BRAG chairman Bill Traill said the government insisted the construction of an enhanced track upgrade just on the northeast line, funded by $235m from Canberra, must be completed before it would move on fleet replacement.
‘‘The original $100m was scheduled for completion in three years; which begs the question of scheduling for a project now more than twice the size,’’ Mr Traill said.
‘‘The time from order to delivery for new V/Locity carriages is 18 months to two years,’’ he said.
‘‘Premier Andrews ‘won’t order new trains to gather dust’, which is clearly code for further delay.
‘‘BRAG calls on the government to be honest with voters by nominating the year when V/Locity trains will commence operating on the Albury line.
‘‘Such drawing of a line in the sand would provide the framework for a genuine commitment from them to reform the rail operation.’’