TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My question is to the Minister for Public
Transport, Martin Pakula. Can the minister advise the house of measures
undertaken to improve rail reliability and infrastructure on the metropolitan
M. P. PAKULA (Minister for Public Transport) — I thank Ms Tierney for the
question. The Brumby government is committed to improving the reliability of the
rail network. Yesterday I was down at North Melbourne, in fact at E-gate, to
announce the details of a $145 million works package to improve reliability
across the metropolitan rail system.
For the period to the end of June that package is anticipated
to have delivered 10 kilometres of new rail line laid across various
metropolitan lines, 225 kilometres of track grinding to improve wheel adhesion,
117 kilometres of new ballast tamping to pack the stones under the tracks,
keeping them aligned and improving ride quality, 16 kilometres of overhead
contact wires replaced, 3 electrical substations upgraded to improve power
supplies to the system, 16 new light-emitting diode signals installed along the
Frankston line, 9 sets of points replaced, 4 station platforms resurfaced, and
the upgrade of the Burgundy Street rail bridge in Heidelberg.
Through the new eight-year operating contract with Metro Trains
Melbourne, funding for rail maintenance has been increased by $500 million over
the life of the contract for a total spend of $1.8 billion. Those works are
being complemented by the major improvement projects like the Westall and
Laverton rail upgrades and the South Morang extension.
This maintenance work will help to reduce cancellations caused
by infrastructure faults and also, as a consequence, improve the on-time running
Metro has also announced that it has recruited 8 apprentices
across substations and rail signalling, with a further 10 apprentices to start
in signal maintenance in the second half of the year. I know Mr Leane would
appreciate that, because most of those are in fact apprentice electricians.
Metro has also been hard at work over the past three and a half months
improving tracks by replacing wooden sleepers with concrete sleepers. By 30 June
this year it will have laid 28 500 concrete sleepers to improve track stability.
As part of last week’s community cabinet I was able to visit
the place where those concrete sleepers are manufactured: a concrete sleeper
manufacturing facility in Ms Tierney’s electorate, Austrak. Austrak gave me the
opportunity to see firsthand the manufacture of this critical element of rail
infrastructure. To date Austrak has already manufactured hundreds of thousands
of concrete sleepers for the Victorian rail system and thousands more for
systems in other states as well.
This company, because of the massive increase in concrete
sleeper replacement, is now operating 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, and has
considerably increased its employment in Geelong.
Those things are all designed to meet the increased demand
being put on Austrak by Metro and by V/Line because of this large increase in
maintenance and large increase in the manufacture of concrete sleepers to
replace timber sleepers. Those works are all being carried out by Metro, not
only sleeper replacement but also the replacement of wiring and the replacement
of track, are designed to increase and improve the reliability of our system.