BALLARAT MP Catherine King says the federal government considers a multi-billion dollar regional rail link project a priority despite reports of an expensive cost blowout. Ms King said construction of the new rail line was expected to begin over the next 12 to 18 months. The regional rail link is a new rail line running from West Werribee to Deer Park and along an existing rail corridor through suburbs including Sunshine and Footscray to Southern Cross Station. It is designed to separate regional and metropolitan trains and increase capacity and reliability for Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong services.A spokesman for Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said there was a "massive $900 million black hole" in funding for the project. The project was previously costed at $4.3 billion with the federal government committing $3.2 billion. The spokesman said the timing of the project was being examined because of a deferral of federal funding and cost blowouts.But Ms King said the project was progressing well."Planning, design and tender processes are progressing well," she said. "The re-profiling will not delay these pre-construction activities."Public Transport Users Association regional transport spokesman Paul Westcott supported a review of the rail link project. He said insufficient planning had gone into the project and it could leave some commuters worse off.Committee for Ballarat chief executive officer Doug Lloyd said he supported the rail link but did question the previous government about the "cost benefits to Ballarat"."We support a thorough review of the benefits and costs of the link," he said.