THE North-East rail line upgrade remains on track for a 2021 completion with confirmation three parties have been short-listed for the $235 million upgrade.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation on Wednesday confirmed John Holland, McConnell Dowell and a Coleman Rail-Rhomberg Rail joint venture were in contention for the major component of the works which could start later this year.
An announcement on the successful tenderer could be announced in November, but to date this year close to 2000 metres of priority mudholes have been removed from the Albury to Melbourne line along with a 15-day track tamping program.
John Holland is involved in a consortium building the $6 billion Metro Tunnel rail project in Melbourne and is also building a plant in Benalla to supply precast concrete to the the West Gate Tunnel project.
McConnell Dowell was awarded the $400 million Murray Basin freight rail project and Coleman and Rhomberg are specialist rail line builders.
ARTC Victorian projects general manager Ed Walker said a formal request for tender phase had commenced.
"The works contract is to deliver ballast depth improvements, track resurfacing, drainage upgrades, level crossing and rail bridge upgrades," he said.
"Further mudhole removal works and tamping will be carried out in parallel with the main contract development.
"We've also made a start to improving more than 110 level crossings and 120 rail bridges.
"These works are part of what's required to meet the Class 2 track performance standard and so far eight bridges and nine level crossings have been completed."
Member for Benambra Bill Tilley said it was important the upgrade was completed by 2021 as promised.
"It is equally important that we have new trains track-ready at the same time," he said.
"Last week in State Parliament I called on the public transport minister to once again to give us details on their vague promise of new trains.
"Will there be four or six services a day, two sets of three VLocity trains cobbled together meaning you need two buffet cars because you can't get from the third to the fourth carriage, will they have long-haul features, including better seats, WiFi?
"You have to remember that while the V/Line trains are wobbling down the track to Wangaratta, the XPT is still serving hot drinks.
"One of the big issues here is the suspension on the old N Class rattlers and the only cure for that is new trains."
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