Geelong and Ballarat have been promised faster trains to Melbourne, no matter who is elected in the Victorian election next month.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday revealed Labor’s Western Rail Plan, to be connect to the booming western suburbs and regions if re-elected.
A train tunnel would connect the CBD to a “super hub” station at Sunshine and integrate with the planned airport link under the plan.
Geelong and Ballarat would get dedicated fast rail tracks to bypass Melbourne suburbs with speeds of up to 200km/h.
Two new electrified metro lines would also extend to Melton and Wyndham in Melbourne’s growing western suburbs.
“This is about giving back to regional Victorians dedicated regional track so they’re not … competing with metro trains in the fastest-growing part of our city,” Mr Andrews told reporters.
Labor hopes to cut travel times to Geelong to about 35 minutes and Ballarat in under an hour.
The government said duplications for the CBD to Sunshine link would be possible within the existing rail corridors.
Mr Andrews committed $100 million to develop a business case from next year if re-elected. Planning would be in conjunction with the previously announced suburban rail loop and airport rail link.
Construction would not be completed for another decade.
The announcement comes just two weeks after Opposition Leader Matthew Guy revealed plans to build a $19 billion “European-style” fast rail link to the regions.
The Coalition plan would get commuters to Geelong in 32 minutes by 2022.
An initial injection of $3 billion over four years would get the service to Geelong done first.
“Electrification will certainly happen in the longer haul, but those in regional Victoria should not be held back from the extra capacity they deserve,” opposition public transport spokesman David Davis told reporters on Tuesday.
Mr Davis said a tunnel was just one option to get more trains through the CBD but there was space for another outbound rail line.
Shadow Treasurer Michael O’Brien accused Labor of announcing a “half-baked panicked alternative” to the opposition’s plan.
Committee for Geelong chief Rebecca Casson said Geelong would be a winner no matter who wins government.
The Property Council of Australia backed the proposals of both political persuasions.
The election is being held on Saturday, November 24.