The Australian government has announced a plan to spend US$1.4bn on building a fast rail link between Geelong and Melbourne in south Australia, halving the amount of time it takes to travel the 80km distance to 32 minutes.
The line, which at 160km/h will be Australia’s fastest, will relieve pressure on the Princes Freeway, which is used by 54,000 vehicles a day.
Alan Tudge, minister for cities, said: "Fast rail from the big capitals to the regional cities eases the pressure off the big cities while supporting the growth of the regions. This works alongside other measures such as reducing the migration rate and encouraging more new migrants and students to settle in smaller cities and regions that need them.
"Geelong is a strong growing regional centre, but transport connectivity to Melbourne is constrained by existing infrastructure. During peak hour, trains are often full at key stations such as Wyndham Vale and Tarneit, with passenger numbers exceeding capacity on the line. Services on the Geelong Line also suffer frequent delays."
Scott Morrison, Australia’s prime minister, said: "This is all part of our plan to manage population growth that I announced this week to take the pressure off our big cities like Melbourne and make our regional cities like Geelong even more attractive places to live and work.
"As our population grows, fast rail networks are crucial to easing the congestion pressures in our cities and shaping Australia’s future."
The project is part of a 20-year fast rail plan, where US$28m will be spent assessing five additional corridors:
- Brisbane to the Gold CoastÂ Â Â Â
- Melbourne to Albury-Wodonga
- Melbourne to Traralgon
- Sydney to Wollongong
- Sydney to Parkes.
Image: Bells Beach in Geelong (Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0)