Almost 40 000 railway sleepers are set to be replaced between Seymour and Shepparton to deliver more reliable train services and allow for new VLocity trains to travel to Shepparton.
A crew of 50 V/Line staff have been working to replace the first of the 37 000 sleepers on the 83 km stretch of track.
The work is progressing quickly, according to Public Transport Minister for Melissa Horne, who said workers were already on the section of track between Murchison East and Toolamba.
“Crews are working through the night to get these essential sleeper replacements done while minimising disruptions to passengers,” she said during a visit to Seymour yesterday.
Yet Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell said the upgrades were nothing to be celebrated.
“Labor has been in office for 16 of the last 20 years and only now has it begun essential sleeper replacement on the Shepparton line,” she said.
“How many more years will we have to wait for acceptable train services to Shepparton?”
Although calling for more investment in local rail services, the works are a step in the right direction, according to Michael Welk, a member of local rail lobbying group SheppartonRAIL.
“If (the works) improve the tracks and allows for faster trains then I think it's a good investment,” he said.
However, he said the group would continue to lobby for 12 train services for Shepparton and high speed rail.
The crew of V/Line staff is currently working in 10-night blocks, completing the work while Shepparton trains aren’t running to minimise the disruption to passengers.
The replacements are part of a $27 million investment along the rail corridor and aims to "deliver more reliable services for locals", Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said.
Once works are complete, Shepparton trains will need to travel over the new sleepers at a slower speed to allow them to bed down.
It's estimated this will add an additional two minutes’ journey time during the works.
A revised temporary timetable for Shepparton services is in place and is available on the V/Line website so passengers can plan their journey.