West Wimmera council objects to passenger rail bid

WEST Wimmera Shire Council believes a passenger rail service west of Ararat would only benefit Horsham instead of the entire region.

Councillors were divided over support for a passenger rail service at a council meeting on Thursday night.

The Mail-Times reported on March 5 Horsham Rural City Council would join forces with neighbouring councils to lobby for State Government support for rail services for communities in the Wimmera, southern Mallee and Victoria's south-west.

Horsham Rural City wrote to Wimmera councils, Ararat Rural City, Southern Grampians and Glenelg shire councils asking for a financial contribution towards a feasibility study and business case for a rail shuttle service.

The contribution from each council would be about $4000 to $5000.

But West Wimmera councillor Bruce Meyer said for West Wimmera to pay the same amount as other councils was unfair.

"There are eight councils involved and where will the train go? Horsham," he said.

"We won't ever get a train here in reality, so those who will benefit from it should pay for it."

Infrastructure development and works general manager Robyn Evans argued the economic flow-on effect from a passenger rail service would be massive for a small shire like West Wimmera.

Cr Meyer said it would only encourage more people from the shire to go and spend money in Horsham.

"We have to get real the train isn't coming here," he said.

Cr Meyer said council should only contribute $2000 towards the project.

Cr Warren Wait and Mayor Ron Hawkins disagreed, saying council should not contribute at all.

Horsham chief executive Peter Brown said Horsham Rural City's contribution would be about $5000.

He said the councils would seek funding for the study from Regional Development Victoria, the Department of Transport Planning and Local Infrastructure and Public Transport Victoria.

Mayor David Grimble said benefits of passenger rail were well-known.

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