Victorian Budget boost for roads and regional rail

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The state government has announced a roads package of $2 billion to improve road travel and safety across Victoria.

The Andrews government has also allocated $1.4 billion to upgrade regional rail services and railway stations to address over-crowding on regional rail lines and improve public transport services.

Several Budget announcements, including funding for roads, public transport, a Melbourne Airport rail link and tackling crime, have been welcomed by RACV.

Read on for a comprehensive rundown of these measures and (below) RACV's 'verdict' on each.

RACV's verdict on budget categories

Rural road maintenance

    What was announced RACV's verdict                                                      
A $260 million increase in rural road improvements including $163 million for rural road maintenance, doubling the previous budget.


RACV welcomes the increased funding for critical road maintenance announced in the Victorian Budget. This increase will go a long way to delivering improved safety for Victorians; however more is still needed to deliver the standards that Victorians expect.

RACV is seeking a road restoration program of $1.2 billion over four years ($300 million per year) to strengthen and resurface Victoria’s most distressed roads within four years. A program of this scale should achieve efficiencies that will also enable safer infrastructure to be included.

In addition, ongoing funding beyond the four-year period should at least resurface 8 to 10 per cent of the network each year.

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North East Link

    What was announced RACV's verdict                                                      
$100 million for the North East Link to carry out planning and pre-construction activities, with procurement also finalised to contract stage to enable signing after the election in 2018. The North East Link has long been RACV’s top priority and the need for it is supported by Infrastructure Victoria, the Victorian Transport Association, AusVEG, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the community action group Resolve Rosanna Road. thumbs up icon

 

Metro Rail Tunnel

    What was announced RACV's verdict                                                      
The Budget includes ongoing funding for the Metro Rail Tunnel project with geotechnical investigations to be undertaken at 24 locations across the city. Our long-term support for this project is reiterated as it will enable increased metropolitan train services across Melbourne to satisfy the ever-increasing demand. thumbs up icon

 

Melbourne Airport Rail Link

    What was announced RACV's verdict                                                      
This Budget includes $10 million to examine the best route for the line, how much it will cost and how to deliver it.


It is clear that a fast direct rail link to Melbourne Airport is required given the expected growth in passengers from more than 30 million a year at present, to more than 60 million by 2030. 

RACV welcomes the Victorian Government’s commitment to investigate alternatives for a vital Melbourne Airport rail link and to develop a business case, in partnership with the Federal Government.

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Upgrade of Hoddle Street/Punt Road from the Eastern Freeway to the Yarra River

    What was announced RACV's verdict                                                      
Continuation with previous project of continuous flow intersections and dedicated bus lanes and clearways, and improvements at the interchange with the Eastern Freeway.


RACV has long campaigned for a significant upgrade to Hoddle Street and Punt Road from the Eastern Freeway to the Yarra River, with immediate implementation of 24/7 clearways and bus lanes on both sides. This is essential to relieve congestion and deliver more reliable bus services to Melbourne's North East.

The current proposals will provide minor relief, but a more comprehensive approach is required.

RACV is disappointed that there is no commitment to the critical Hoddle Street and Punt Road project in the State Budget. We urge the government to reconsider its decision.

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Duplication of regional interstate highways

    What was announced RACV's verdict                                                      
Continuation of existing works to duplicate the highways, including funding provision from the Federal Government. The duplication of Victoria’s major highways will continue – including the Princes Highway East to Sale, the Princes Highway West to Colac and the Western Highway to Stawell. thumbs up icon

 

Construction of the Shepparton Bypass

    What was announced RACV's verdict                                                      
Planning study for stage 1, connecting Midland Highway to Goulburn Valley Highway. RACV has called for the Shepparton Bypass, and the planning study will consider the feasibility of the first stage. thumbs neutral icon

 

East-West Link – Stages 1 and 2

What was announced RACV's verdict                                                      
Not delivered.


RACV supports the complete East West Link, from the Eastern Freeway to CityLink and the Western Ring Road.

Despite having no plans to continue with this project, the Victorian Government should ensure that the corridor and government-owned land within the original plan be protected as recommended by Infrastructure Victoria for future consideration.

RACV acknowledges the Victorian Government commitment to the West Gate Tunnel project as it delivers an alternative to the West Gate Bridge, which is the function of the western section of the East West Link.

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Outer-suburban transport packages

    What was announced RACV's verdict                                                      
Part-delivered with a number of road upgrades.


RACV has identified the need for an outer-suburban road and public transport improvement package costing in excess of $7 billion over the next decade.

RACV is pleased with the Government’s announcement of the outer-western roads package and its plans for similar packages in the north and south-east.

RACV is also pleased to see proposals for some public transport improvements, but more funding is needed for bus services in growth suburbs

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Regional Victorian transport package

    What was announced RACV's verdict                                                      
Regional rail package and selected rural road upgrades.


RACV welcomes the Government’s commitment to improving several regional roads plus the Government’s commitment to regional rail upgrades. RACV notes that more still needs to be done to improve transport in our regional cities.

We call on the Federal Government to support these much-needed improvements to Victoria’s regional rail network.

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Bicycle infrastructure

    What was announced RACV's verdict                                                      
Cycling education plan as well as cycling paths along new road projects such as the Mordialloc Bypass and the West Gate Tunnel.


Safe separated cycling infrastructure has long been part of RACV's proposals to improve safety for bicycle riders, along with our ‘Share the Road’ campaign.

RACV welcomes the Government’s commitment of $100 million to improve safety for bicycle riders and pedestrians, and we look forward to detailed announcements.

There is, however, a clear need to develop a comprehensive plan to improve both on-road and off-road cycle paths and lanes.

We also commend the Government’s commitment to an education campaign for motorists to provide adequate clearance when passing bicycle riders as well as the integration of cycle paths alongside new road projects.

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Better access to train stations

    What was announced RACV's verdict                                                      
$8.7 million to upgrade train station access and facilities. Funding to create extra parking at Montmorency and Cardinia Road Stations, and build a new bus interchange and more parking at Ballarat Station. These upgrades are a welcome boost to improve the amenity and access at a number of train stations. We would like to see further investment to improve the connectivity of footpaths, cycling paths and public transport services. thumb neutral icon

 

Improved bus network

    What was announced RACV's verdict                                                      
A new $67 million package will help fund a series of route extensions, upgrades and new services to improve bus network coverage in Bentleigh, Frankston, Mordialloc, Narre Warren, Craigieburn, Sunbury and Broadmeadows. $2.1 million will fund extra peak-hour bus services to Fishermans Bend. $13.7 million will upgrade Huntingdale and Werribee bus interchanges and build a new bus interchange at Ballarat Station. While these targeted improvements will improve services in a number of areas, a much larger investment is needed to improve bus services across our outer suburbs and regional Victoria. thumb neutral icon

 

Support for community transport services

    What was announced RACV's verdict                                                      
There is no dedicated funding to support community transport.  RACV is disappointed at the lack of funding for community transport in Victoria. thumbs down icon

 

Taxes

    What was announced RACV's verdict                                                      


Victorians will be hit with increased tax when purchasing new cars, with motor vehicle taxes totalling $2.5 billion in revenue in 2017-18.

From July 1 next year, the rate of duty for new vehicles will increase from $6.40 per $200 to $8.40 per $200.

Motorists will be hit with an extra $74 million in speeding and other traffic fines by 2021.


RACV is concerned that these new taxes may impact on Victorians’ willingness to upgrade to new, safer motor vehicles.

While additional revenue has been budgeted for speeding and other fines, RACV urges motorists to obey the road laws and not risk being fined.

RACV also calls on the Government to ensure that any new speed or red light cameras are only installed or operated at critical crash locations and speed limits are not artificially reduced to levels which have no credibility.

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Level-crossing removal program

    What was announced RACV's verdict                                                      
$846 million brought forward as the removal project is ahead of schedule. RACV initially proposed and has long supported the removal of level crossings in Victoria, and applauds the Government on its efforts thus far. thumbs up icon

 

Crime

    What was announced RACV's verdict                                                      


$2 billion for nearly 3000 extra police officers plus $1.9 billion for a comprehensive family violence package.

$67 million to improve safety on public transport, expanding the protection warning system on trains, and making station platforms safer.

RACV is pleased to see action taken to reduce crime in Victoria. We know this is a top concern for our members and their safety is our priority. thumbs up icon

 

Poor country road

Regional roads

RACV General Manager Public Policy Brian Negus welcomed funding for critical road maintenance but said more was required to address some of Victoria’s most unsafe roads.

“The regional roads package of $550 million is a good start but clearly more is needed to deliver safer travel for Victorians.”

The regional roads package includes $260 million for road maintenance, compared with the RACV’s estimate of $1.2 billion needed to repair the state’s worst roads.

According to RACV analysis of VicRoads data for 2015-16, 7.4 per cent of regional Victoria’s 19,630-kilometre road network was in a “distressed” state.

Specific projects identified in the Budget papers include:

  • Reconstructing and resurfacing 40 kilometres of narrow sealed arterial roads in south-west Victoria
  • $10 million for the Henty Highway in south-west Victoria
  • $53 million for the South Western Victoria road package
  • $48 million for the South Gippsland Highway
  • Once-off $75 million for state-wide road restoration and road surface replacement, in 2017/18.

Separate to the significant road maintenance and restoration issue with the state’s regional highways, the state Budget funds a range of other regional road projects.  They include:

  • New roundabout at the intersection of Phillip Island Road and Woolamai Beach Road, Cape Woolamai
  • Rest area upgrades along the Hume Freeway, at Bentons Hill, Reef Hills and Balmattum, and Princes Highway East at Moe, and east of Longwarry
  • Trialling a wide centreline on the Calder Highway between Ouyen and Mildura
  • Traffic signals for Princes Highway East and Bank Street, Traralgon
  • Roundabout at intersection of Barwon Heads Road/Black Rock Road and Staceys Road, Connewarre
  • $7.6 million to investigate the Shepparton Bypass between the Midland Highway and Goulburn Valley Highway, north of Shepparton.

RACV will monitor the wide centreline trial along the Calder Highway, which has been identified by the Australian Road Assessment Program (AusRAP) as one of the lowest-standard major highways in Victoria.

Regional public transport

Regional public transport

Budget funding commitments are aimed at reducing overcrowding on regional train services to centres including Geelong, Warrnambool, Ballarat, Bendigo, Gippsland, Ararat and Maryborough.

RACV research – published in the Regional Growing Pains and On-Track surveys reports – show that regional Victorians want a choice in the way they travel. RACV is looking forward to the Federal Government supporting this program to deliver on these critical transport services.

Some of the regional public transport projects in the State Budget are:

  • $435 million for the Gippsland Rail Upgrade project
  • Planning for a rail line to Torquay
  • Upgrading the Warrnambool Line to enable more frequent and reliable services, provided the necessary Federal Government funds are made available to Victoria
  • Upgrading the Bendigo Line, Ballarat Line to Ararat and planning for new trains on the North East Line, if necessary Federal Government funds are made available to Victoria
  • $33 million to upgrade the Shepparton line and provide additional services
  • $9.7 million for level-crossing upgrades on the Warrnambool line.
Eastern freeway

Metropolitan roads

Several key metropolitan road projects funded in the Budget have been called for by RACV, including the M80 Ring Road upgrade ($700 million), the Mordialloc Bypass ($300 million), and the Yan Yean Road upgrade ($96.6 million).

The North East Link, which would complete the Metropolitan Ring Road, was allocated $100 million of Budget funds for planning and pre-construction. It has long been RACV’s top road project because of its ability to reduce significant congestion in Melbourne’s north and east and improve productivity for the freight industry.

Other metropolitan road projects to be funded from this State Budget, include:

  • Improving capacity at Springvale Road/Governor Road intersection in Keysborough and Eastern Freeway/Bulleen Road/Thompsons Road, Bulleen
  • Provision for future roads packages in the northern and south-eastern suburbs, complementing the Western Suburbs Road Package already announced. This will involve the private sector upgrading a range of roads, and then maintaining them for 20 years.
  • $52.9 million for road restoration and road surface replacement, in 2017/18
  • $5 million to investigate further upgrades in the Monash Freeway corridor
  • Road upgrades at nine locations to address urban congestion. Three are along Canterbury Road and two on Maroondah Highway.

Congested locations like the Top 10 Redspot, Point Cook Road between Sneydes Road and the Princes Freeway at Seabrook, have not been funded.

Bicycle riding

There are few specific new projects identified in the State Budget, although major new road projects like the Mordialloc Bypass will include off-road paths. The Box Hill to Ringwood Bikeway will be finished this year. The State Government has a $100 million Safer Cyclists and Pedestrians Fund from previous budgets, for bicycle-related projects. Cycling tourism is to be investigated in north-east Victoria.

RACV is disappointed there are not additional safe bicycle facilities in the Budget. It looks forward to further announcements regarding proposals.

Cranbourne bus stop

Metropolitan public transport

The Budget has committed $62 million to improve public transport services across Melbourne, including railway station and bus stop safety, and changes to bus services in seven suburbs. RACV acknowledges that many more suburbs are in desperate need of better bus services. The Budget also includes $67 million for improved security at train stations and bus stops, which are critical issues identified in RACV community surveys.

The government’s commitment to investigate a direct rail link to Melbourne Airport has been welcomed by RACV’s Brian Negus. “We look forward to a future commitment by both the state and federal governments to ensure construction is commenced within the decade,” he says.

Projects funded in the State Budget include:

  • Eight additional train services on the Werribee line, in the ‘shoulder peak’
  • Tram shuttle along St Kilda Road
  • 50 additional tram services on routes 57, 58 and 59
  • Additional Parkville bus services to help with disruption arising from the construction of the Melbourne Metro project
  • Continuation of 24-hour public transport on weekends
  • Bus route changes and extensions in Bentleigh, Frankston, Mordialloc, Narre Warren, Craigieburn, Sunbury and Broadmeadows
  • Tram and bus priority along High Street, Kew; Smith Street, Fitzroy; and Pascoe Vale Road, Broadmeadows.
Houses in Melbourne

Your home

The Budget commits $851 million to abolish stamp duty for first home buyers on homes valued up to $600,000, and cuts to stamp duty on homes valued up to $750,000.

The State Government is also funding a new optional standard long-term lease agreement for landlords and tenants, to enter into leases of more than five years. If successful, this may help tenants and landlords frustrated with short-term lease arrangements.

The State Budget allocates $23.7 million to help households and businesses manage their energy usage and compare energy prices. It is also to be used for State Government advocacy with the Federal Government over energy matters.

$25.4 million is allocated for climate change responses, including statewide emission reduction targets, development of better data and helping local governments to achieve zero net emissions by 2050.

Tackling crime

A $2 billion Budget boost to police resources has also been welcomed by RACV. Crime, particularly increases in home burglary and vehicle theft, are key concerns for RACV members.

Written by RACV
May 03, 2017