MEMBER for Lowan Emma Kealy is fighting for improved access to public transport in Western Victoria.
Eight Western Victorian councils launched a campaign in April 2017 calling for the return of passenger rail to Horsham and Hamilton. They require funding to develop a business case for the Western Rail Project.
Ms Kealy said people in regional areas should have the same connections as people living in Melbourne.
“It is about making sure people can get to a doctor’s appointment, or a social event, to connect with friends and family or even to shop,” she said.
However, she said improving connections was not just about returning passenger rail services.
“When we look at where the rail lines are they don’t service a great portion of people who live in rural communities,” she said.
“We need to look at how we can improve rail connections but also inter-connectivity – how people can get to a town off the rail line.”
She said the public transport services in Western Victoria has significantly reduced. The state government removed bus services to Warracknabeal and Murtoa last year.
Ms Kealy said the issue needed to be taken to Parliament to make sure Western Victoria was not forgotten.
The Victorian Coalition announced regional rail services would receive $633 million to replace older trains if they win the state election. However, the Wimmera was not part of the Coalition’s rail transport plans.
Ms Kealy reassured the announcement was not a state-wide plan.
“We are focused on getting rail back to our region but in other parts of the state country rail has also been neglected for too long,” she said.
“The announcement was around rolling stock and given that there wasn’t any in this part of the state we couldn’t be included.”
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the Liberal Nationals believed regional Victorians should not be left behind. Mr Guy said he would have more to say on rail soon.
Transport Minister Jacinta Allan was aware of the desire for the return of passenger rail to Horsham, a state government spokeswoman says.
The spokeswoman said Ms Allan’s focus was on delivering the Regional Rail Revival to provide an upgrade to all regional rail lines. She said they would continue to work with councils to address public transport concerns.