Ballarat trains to get free wi-fi, says Premier Napthine

BALLARAT train commuters will finally be able to use their phones and work during their daily commute after Premier Denis Napthine visited Ballarat to announce free wi-fi on V/Line trains and a plan to eliminate mobile black spots.

The battle for Ballarat's two marginal seats was alive and well with both the Opposition Leader and Premier hitting the streets in hope of influencing the result come the November election day.

While Dr Napthine was beaten to the punch by Mr Andrews, he did manage to lure in the majority of the city's key figures for his announcement at the Ballarat Train Station. 

The $40 million commitment will mean Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Seymour and Traralgon train commuters will get free wi-fi on V/Line trains as well as solving mobile phone coverage problems in fire prone areas. 

Dr Napthine made special mention of Dereel as one township which would benefit from the funding, promising to help with mobile coverage problems. 

He said almost 40 per cent of the Ballarat train line already had intermittent phone reception. 

"We are going to use the money to upgrade the infrastructure to guarantee no black spots along the line from Ballarat to Melbourne," Dr Napthine said. 

"We will be going to an expressions of interest process and we expect by the end of 2015 we will start to see the free wi-fi services on V/Line services in regional Victoria."

The black spot funding will be used in partnership with the Federal government's $100 million Mobile Coverage Program. 

The $40 million commitment will be included in the May state budget. 

Minister for Technology Gordon Rich-Phillips said the announcement would see the construction of new phone towers. 

"There is more than 620 kilometres of track between Melbourne and these five regional centres, with commuters facing little or no mobile data coverage along approximately 40 per cent of this network," he said.

matthew.dixon@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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