Infrastructure Australia has approved the plans for Adelaide’s $615 million Gawler rail line electrification project and the $551.7 million upgrade to Victoria’s Ballarat line, listing both as priority projects on its Infrastructure Priority List.
The Gawler Rail Line Electrification and Modernisation project involves electrifying South Australia’s Gawler rail line, replacing the diesel fleet with electric train cars, replacing signalling equipment and systems and upgrading 20 stations on the line.
IA’s acting chief executive Anna Chau said that upgrades proposed as part of the Gawler Rail Line Electrification and Modernisation Project would improve journey times for commuters and enable more train services between the CBD and Adelaide’s fast-growing northern suburbs.
“The majority of the population growth projected for Greater Metropolitan Adelaide to 2061 will occur in Adelaide’s northern suburbs along the Gawler rail line, which is also a critical link between the CBD and regional centres of Mawson Lakes, Salisbury, Elizabeth and Gawler,” Ms. Chau said.
She said that IA’s 2015 Australian Infrastructure Audit found that the number of commuters travelling on the Gawler line would almost double by 2031, with the rail line reaching capacity within five to ten years.
The Ballarat Line upgrade project aims to increase capacity on the Victorian rail line by duplicating tracks, adding passing loops and upgrading stations.
According to Ms. Chau, constrained track configuration on the line makes punctual and reliable scheduling of services difficult, and has hampered the provision of extra services.
She said that as Melbourne’s population expands in the coming decades, links to outer urban areas and satellite cities such as Ballarat would become even more vital.
“Infrastructure Australia is confident that the proposed upgrade would allow additional services to run on the Ballarat Line, providing passengers with more reliable and less crowded trips,” she said.
“It would also reduce congestion on the road network by encouraging some travellers to use public transport instead of driving.”