New trains are finally on track to being built for the North East rail line after the Victorian government announced the region's VLocity rolling stock would be fully funded in its 2019-20 budget.
The North East will share $340 million to build up to 18 new VLocity trains with Geelong and Ballarat, but the government has promised the trains needed between Albury and Melbourne would be ordered first as a priority.
The exact number and monetary value is yet to be revealed.
The money was announced in Monday's budget, with a promise the rolling stock would be built in time for when the Australian Rail Track Corporation upgrades of the troubled rail line are due to be completed in 2021.
Budget papers revealed $174.8 million will be spent in the 2019-20 financial year, with the rest spread out over the following three years.
Labor's commitment made before the election in November was to spend $340 million on up to 18 trains for Geelong and Ballarat alone, but has now included the North East line.
Northern Victoria MP Jaclyn Symes, addressing the media on Monday as Regional Development Minister, said the rolling stock announcement was her "personal highlight" of the budget and quipped that "our trains are almost as old as me".
She said it would be wonderful if passengers could be confident to use the train service again.
"I'm very, very happy that we've got our North East trains, which will be built in time for the upgrade of our track," Ms Symes said.
"This order ensures that we will be able to have trains run on the new track so I'm feeling very confidently optimistic that we're going to nail this finally."
Border Rail Action Group chairman Bill Traill said while it was the best news on the trains in the past 12 months, he had a reaction of "not massive enthusiasm".
He was reserving his judgement until the Victorian government provided specifics of the North East's allocation, which he said needed to be at least three full train sets including a specialised carriage for food, drinks and luggage storage.
BRAG members were also skeptical of the ARTC's claim the track upgrades would be completed by 2021.
"It's a small insurance that the trains will be ordered," Mr Traill said.
"If not a breakthrough, this is promising progress in the scheme of things."
Benambra MP Bill Tilley said the government had to answer the questions of "how many, what are they and when?" because the details of the North East's rolling stock was not specifically listed in the budget papers.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here