V/LINE’S much-awaited VLocity test train passed through Stratford on Wednesday morning, ahead of the permanent deployment of VLocity trains to the Gippsland line later this year.
The 2016-17 State Budget included $280.4 million for 27 new VLocity regional carriages to be built in Dandenong.
Eastern Victoria MLC Harriet Shing said the trains were more “modern and reliable”, and would allow passengers to travel in comfort.
The state government is replacing locomotivehauled trains on the Bairnsdale line with Victorian-built VLocity trains in August this year.
Two of the three daily return Bairnsdale services will operate with the more modern rolling stock, providing improved comfort for passengers.
The first morning train from Bairnsdale and the last evening train from Melbourne to Bairnsdale will continue to be operated by classic fleet trains for the time being.
Geotechnical drilling to test rock and soil as part of the Gippsland line upgrade is also continuing in preparation for major work, including the Avon River Bridge replacement.
About six bore holes have been dug near the bridge, with the work scheduled to move to other sections of the line in coming months.
The $530 million Gippsland line upgrade will transform the line to deliver more frequent and more reliable services for locals and visitors.
It includes duplicating several sections of track along the line, constructing second platforms at various stations, upgrading signalling between Traralgon and Pakenham and relocating train stabling facilities at Traralgon.
Level crossing upgrades are being delivered as part of the upgrade.
V/Line crews are digging trenches and have begun boring at three locations on the line, and level crossing signalling equipment is being assembled by technicians.
At least seven level crossings between Sale and Bairnsdale will also be upgraded to active to include flashing lights, bells and boom gates.
V/Line is consulting with local communities about the level crossing upgrades, including emergency services, councils and residents along the rail line.
More information about the Gippsland line upgrade is available at regionalrailrevival.vic.gov.au.
Ms Shing said critical work was also being completed in the lead- up to deploying VLocity trains to Bairnsdale, including testing rolling stock on the line and getting on with level crossing upgrades.
“To deliver the reliable, safe and modern service that the Gippsland line has needed for so long, we are investing in track upgrades and duplication, bridges and river crossings, stations and parking improvements — and we’re also doing everything we can to minimise the disruption,” she said.