Victorian state election: Coalition reboots train promises with $3.9 billion

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The Age: Victorian state election: Coalition reboots train promises with $3.9 billion. November 9, 2014 Clay Lucas City Editor, The Age

A plan to build 75 new trains for Melbourne, 75 new E-class trams and 24 new V/Locity rail cars for V/Line will be promised at the Napthine Government’s campaign launch in Ballarat on Sunday.

Transport Minister Terry Mulder said the 75 newly pledged suburban trains will come into service between 2019 and 2026.

But Labor labelled the promises “a con” and pointed to broken promises on public transport made by the Coalition at 2010 election – including a pledge to put 10 new trams on the tracks. None of these trams were delivered.

“And they specifically promised they were not going to build the East West Link last time. But they did promise a Doncaster rail line, Avalon rail and 40 new trains,” Opposition scrutiny of government spokesman Martin Pakula said.

“How can any of their commitments be believed this time?”

The numbers promised by Dr Napthine in 2014 are bigger than what was promised last time – $3.9 billion on Sunday versus $1.4 billion in 2010.

In 2010, to applause from the gathered Liberal Party faithful at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, then Liberal leader Ted Baillieu pledged that, “over two terms we will purchase 40 new six-carriage trains”.

Only seven of those trains have been delivered thus far, with eight more to come shortly.

The 25 remaining promised new trains are now tied up in the increasingly messy public-private partnership to revamp the Cranbourne-Pakenham line.

That revamp has been delayed as the government and the consortium that approached it with an unsolicited bid try to work out the detail.

Mr Baillieu also pledged the trains his Coalition government promised would be “largely manufactured in Victoria” – a promise to be made by Dr Napthine on Sunday as well.

The trains ordered in future would be required to have a minimum of 50 per cent local content, up from the current 30 per cent minimum.

And, in a desperate bid to stem outrage over the possible closure of Ballarat’s Alstom train-assembly plant, the Coalition will on Sunday announce a further immediate order of 12 X’Trapolis trains.

Alstom warned last month its plant there could shut, taking at least 70 jobs with it, because it had no work booked after next June.

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