THE state and federal governments provided an update on the Gippsland Line Upgrade on Monday.
A contractor will soon be appointed, with construction expected to begin later this year and targeted for completion in late 2022.
The project is anticipated to reduce congestion between Pakenham and Traralgon, increasing service reliability in an area that is a major cause of delays for city-bound trains.
The government says it is expected to create 400 jobs in the region and deliver more frequent and reliable services for Gippsland passengers.
Eastern Victoria MLC Jane Garrett said the Regional Rail Revival would enhance regional economies, create local jobs and provide valuable opportunities for local suppliers as the state recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Gippsland Line Upgrade includes building a new rail bridge over the Avon River in Stratford, second platforms and station amenity works at Bunyip, Longwarry, Morwell and Traralgon stations, track duplication between Bunyip and Longwarry, extension of Morwell crossing loop, level crossing, signalling and drainage upgrades, as well as building a larger train stabling facility at or near Traralgon.
The project has already delivered benefits for passengers on the Gippsland line, with upgrades to level crossings between Sale and Bairnsdale allowing VLocity trains to run to Bairnsdale for the first time.
The Gippsland Line Upgrade will enable extra off-peak services as track duplication, a crossing loop extension and second platforms at stations will provide more opportunities for trains to pass each other.
The upgrade includes improvements to accessibility and amenities at stations, train detection at level crossings along the line to improve safety for motorists and train passengers and improvements to drainage structures, meaning trains should operate more efficiently and infrastructure resilience will be increased along the Gippsland line.
The new Avon River Rail Bridge, pictured under construction, will allow trains to travel at up to 90 kilometres per hour, instead of slowing down to 10kmh in this section as they currently do.