Victoria has unveiled what the government says is a record $27 billion splurge on new road and rail projects over the next four years as the government tries desperately to address the state’s long term infrastructure shortfall.
Releasing the 2014/15 State Budget, State Treasurer Michael O’Brien said the four year program – which includes $24 billion in transport – will deliver thousands of employment opportunities from office-based engineering and design roles to onsite road works and building and construction jobs plus the small businesses that support them.
Between $8.5 billion and $11 billion will be allocated to the Melbourne Rail Link – a new tunnel from Southern Cross Station in the west of the Central Business District to the inner-eastern suburb of South Yarra, as well as the Airport Rail Link which will introduce a new electrified rail service from a new station at Melbourne Airport to Albion in Melbourne’s west and will then connect via existing line to Southern Cross.
A further $2 billion - $2.5 billion will be spend upgrading the fast growing rail corridor between Cranbourne and Pakenham in Melbourne’s outer east. Nine level crossings will be removed and 25 new high capacity trains will be introduced whilst high-capacity signalling will be installed.
Up north, around $200 million will be spent upgrading major country rail freight upgrades and standardising the Mildura to Geelong rail link.
In roads, between $8 billion and $10 billion will be spent on Stage 2 of the East West Link, widening the Tullamarine Freeway and duplicating the Princes Highway from Winchelsea to Colac in the state’s south-west.
The government also plans to spend $500 million upgrading educational facilities including twelve new schools (2014/15), $447 million expanding prisons and correctional facilities (2014/15) and $115 million upgrading the LaTrobe Regional and Booart Hospitals and building the new Barwon Health-North facility.
A further $1.2 billion per year on vocational training whilst payroll tax rates will be cut to 4.85 percent.
O’Brien says good fiscal management means the state will achieve an operating surplus of $1.3 billion in 2014/15 and was in a position to fund significant dollar value projects.
"Today's budget is about building a better Victoria and responsible economic management means we can deliver a record infrastructure program that will create jobs, boost productivity and deliver better quality services” O’Brien said.
Set to begin in mid-2017, the Metro Rail project will generate around 3,700 jobs during construction whilst the western section of the East West Link will deliver 700 and the Tulla widening a further 300.