Will A $3 Billion Fast Rail Network Federal Budget Promise ‘Save’ Geelong

In the recent Federal Budget Scott Morrison pledged to cut travel times from Geelong to Melbourne in half, with the announced pledge of $2 Billion dollars in cash towards a fast-train project. This amount he said was needed to be matched by the Andrews State Labour Government. But before you start rushing off to invest in Geelong, lets take a close look at this safelight city one hour from Melbourne.

What we do know is the Andrews Government has committed to spending $150 million in a fast-train feasibility study, and in closer inspection of Commonwealth’s contribution to the fast-train project -it begins with $20 million in 2021-22 budget and a further $30 million the following year – with the bulk of the funds – $1.95 billion to be delivered post 2023-24.

On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be anything like the same level of commitment here from the Federal Government for this Geelong fast-rail network announcement as there is for the funding of the new airport in Badgerys Creek and the infrastructure projects around Greater Western Sydney.

However, Geelong definitely needs a fast-train and some more infrastructure to help offset the exodus from Melbourne looking for a more relaxed lifestyle, because the reality is there are some cracks starting to appear in what was once sleepy Geelong.

Firstly, in the past five years, Geelong and its surrounding regions have had a population increase of over 12 percent and house prices have risen 44 per cent. Helped in part by the exodus of Melbournians and also in part by the relocation of the white collar office type jobs from the Traffic Accident Commission, WorkSafe and National Disability Insurance Scheme into Geelong in recent years.

The rapid growth has placed the local rail one hour commute to Melbourne to be nicknamed the “sardine express”.

“It’s running at 140 per cent [capacity]. It’s the busiest rail line in Australia,” Greater Geelong mayor Bruce Harwood said. “Do yourself a favour, just catch it one day. Catch a peak-hour train.

“It’s standing room only by Geelong, just about. You get just out of Geelong, and it’s busy.

The key piece of infrastructure puzzle for Geelong to become even more desirable would be a fast-train project in terms of reducing congestion and halving a 30-minute commute to the Melbourne CBD.

When you combine this with being able to work in Melbourne and live in the more relaxed lifestyle of Geelong and wider coastal Bellarine Peninsula it’s no wonder you have Scott Morrison promising a Geelong to Melbourne fast-rail line, however the question remains is this simply an election promise or will Geelong get the infrastructure project solution they really need.

Geelong house prices

Source: Domain
QUARTER HOUSES: YOY GROWTH % UNITS: YOY GROWTH %
Mar-14 4.7 5.8
Sep-14 3.5 7.2
Mar-15 2.6 8.6
Sep-15 4.4 0.2
Mar-16 5.9 -3.5
Sep-16 5 -4.4
Mar-17 7.6 -2.6
Sep-17 13 9.6
Mar-18 15.3 13.2
Sep-18 11.7 12.5
Mar-19 5.2 9

Average days on market for Geelong houses

Mar-17 90
Jun-17 77
Sep-17 65
Dec-17 56
Mar-18 64
Jun-18 52
Sep-18 51
Dec-18 51
Mar-19 68

Geelong clearance rates

Feb-18 76%
Mar-18 73%
Apr-18 69%
May-18 71%
Jun-18 67%
Jul-18 67%
Aug-18 58%
Sep-18 61%
Oct-18 54%
Nov-18 47%
Dec-18 36%
Jan-19 N/A
Feb-19 44%
Mar-19 50%

 

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