Five construction groups have placed bids to deliver the $518 million upgrade and duplication of the Ballarat Rail Line.
Ballarat commuters were forced to endure the worst-ever month of train performance in May when it was revealed just 79.8 per cent of trains arrived on time.
The May figure continued a downwards trend for V/Line performance, which consistently lagged far behind the 92 per cent stated goal.
V/Line chief executive James Pinder said at the time rapid growth along the line was to blame for the poor service.
The Ballarat Line Upgrade will duplicate 18 kilometres of single track between Deer Park West and Melton, install extra passing loops, and build new stabling facilities, station platforms and car parking.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said the nation’s best construction firms were bidding to build the critical project.
“We’re investing more than half a billion dollars to give commuters in Ballarat, Melton and Melbourne’s West more trains, more often,” she said.
The firms include John Holland, Laing O’Rourke, Lendlease, CPB Contractors and TRANSFORM.
There will be more trains scheduled for the line once upgrades are complete.
Wendouree MP Sharon Knight said there was real progress being made on the project.
he Melbourne Metro Rail Authority will also relocate existing stabling yards at Bacchus Marsh station to Maddingley, instead of constructing new stabling at Melton and Rowsley.
This will allow staff to work from one location, away from urban areas and make it quieter for residents.
The state government will award the contract later this year.
Works for the Ballarat Line Upgrade are also underway, with nearly 90 boreholes dug since February, to provide information about the ground conditions.
Further site investigations including geotechnical drilling, service locating and ecological assessments will be carried out in the coming months to inform the project’s detailed design.
Up to 400 jobs will be created during construction.
Buninyong MP Geoff Howard said it was a massive project that would create hundreds of jobs and deliver more frequent, reliable rail services.