Public transport campaign gathers pace | editorial

A WIMMERA company says it could return passenger rail to the region tomorrow – with the right rolling stock. 

Wimmera Rail Services’ three-stage plan adds an interesting twist to the existing Western Rail Project campaign to return passenger services to Horsham and Hamilton. That campaign launched 12 months ago with the weight of eight councils and a feasibility study that showed the return of passenger rail was vital to the liveability and connectivity of the region to link with major Victorian centres, including Melbourne. 

Their stance was that improved public transport would open new opportunities in jobs, education, health, friends, shopping and sport. 

The report estimated the project’s total capital cost to be $369 million, the bulk of which is upgrading existing rail infrastructure – $217m to Horsham and $92m to add Hamilton. Western Rail Services estimates it could do the job for $291.8m. 

During the same period, Member for Lowan Emma Kealy has drawn particular attention to residents who are attempting to access specialist medical attention with high levels of inconvenience. 

Some are utilising public transport but must allow for hours of travel to attend appointments in Geelong or Melbourne, often with the added cost of an overnight stay.

The Mail-Times is adding more weight to its coverage of this issue through today’s launch of a more formalised media campaign to return passenger rail to the region. 

Through our online and print platforms, the campaign – called Getting the Wimmera Back on Track – will fight for the plan to become a reality. What really needs to be done to return rail to the region? How does our public transport in the Wimmera compare to other regional cities across Victoria? What do politicians think about the plan? Is it even on their radar? 

What do our Wimmera residents think of the plan? Would they support greater public transport options? What would it mean to their lives? 

We need reader support to add the region’s voice to this campaign. We encourage people to share their stories – be that memories of the former service or the benefits you see in returning trains to the Wimmera. 

Reach out to our newsroom via the online feedback form on the Getting the Wimmera Back on Track page, email us via newsdesk@mailtimes.com.au or phone 5362 0000.

Jessica Grimble, editor