Hindmarsh Shire backs passenger rail

HINDMARSH Shire Council has backed a proposal to reinstate passenger rail in the Wimmera.

HINDMARSH Shire Council has backed a proposal to reinstate passenger rail in the Wimmera.

HINDMARSH Shire Council has backed a proposal to reinstate passenger rail in the Wimmera.

Councillors at Wednesday's meeting unanimously voted to contribute $4000 towards a feasibility study for a proposed shuttle service in the region.

The Wimmera shuttle would use existing standard gauge rail lines from Kaniva through Nhill, Dimboola, Horsham, Murtoa and Stawell to Ararat, and link in with Melbourne-bound services from Ararat.

A second shuttle is proposed from Portland through Hamilton to Ararat.

Eight Wimmera and south-west Victorian municipalities are involved in the project's development.

They include Ararat Rural City, Northern Grampians Shire, West Wimmera Shire, Hindmarsh Shire, Yarriambiack Shire, Southern Grampians Shire and Glenelg Shire councils.

Horsham Rural City Council is leading the initiative.

Council representatives met with Public Transport Victoria, V-Line, Australian Rail Transport Corporation and Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure delegates on February 25 to discuss the proposal.

Hindmarsh chief executive Tony Doyle said it was suggested at that meeting that, for the proposal to progress, it was important to develop a business case.

"It was equally important to ensure the proposal has broad support and is a priority in the Regional Transport Plans for the Central Highlands, Wimmera and South West regions," he said.

"The concept has since been raised with both the Central Highlands Transport Planning Group and Wimmera Regional Transport Group.

"Horsham Rural City Council has written to all eight councils directly affected by the proposed service seeking a contribution of $4000 each towards the feasibility study."

Mr Doyle said regular passenger rail would take some pressure off the Western Highway and provide economic benefits to the communities along the rail corridor.

"It will be an extensive piece of advocacy work," he said.

More than 400 people liked and 120 people commented on a Mail-Times story about the proposed shuttle service in October. Most supported the idea.

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