Gippsland rail project pushed back yet again

The Gippsland Regional Rail Revival project has suffered another blowout in costs and now has no completion date, according to the State Budget released this week.

Gippsland Nationals MPs said they were angry that after more than seven years, the State Labor Government has been unable to deliver a project that it said was “shovel ready” when announced in 2017.

The State Budget papers indicate an additional $31 million has been added to the $562 million cost of the Gippsland Rail Revival project and that an estimated completion date can’t be finalised due to ‘signalling design work’.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, said Gippslanders had suffered long enough from construction-related delays and were wondering if there would ever be any benefits from this project.

“The Gippsland Rail Revival was announced in April 2017 and yet here we are in May 2024 and the latest budget papers have the estimated completion date as “tbc”,” Mr O’Brien said.

“This is yet another blow for Gippsland commuters who are sick of delays and underperformance of the Gippsland V/Line service.”

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester, who, as Federal Minister, provided the bulk of the funds for this project, said it was clear Labor was incapable of delivering.

“I was pleased as Minister to be able to support this project, one of the first federal funding injections to passenger rail because I saw there would be benefits for us,” Mr Chester said.

“That we are now seven years down the track and still don’t have a completion date is a disgrace.”

Member for Morwell Martin Cameron said the excuse that signalling works were still being designed is extremely disappointing.

“We are looking for faster and more frequent services from the Valley to Melbourne, and yet we are constantly putting up with bus replacements because of these works,” Mr Cameron said.

“To now see that the completion date is to be confirmed is frustrating for all Valley residents. It also means that the long-awaited Bank Street traffic lights continue to be delayed as they are also waiting on signalling works on the rail line.”

Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, called on the government to get cracking on the project.

“We’ve been promised additional services to Bairnsdale when this project is finished, but it seems to be on the never, never,” Mr Bull said.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath, said Labor can’t manage money and can’t manage major projects.

“It is hard to believe that Labor has taken seven years to not deliver this project and even now, the budget papers show we don’t have a completion date,” Ms Bath said.

“Gippsland commuters have put up with second-rate services now for years, and it’s time Labor got on with the job.”

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