WESTERN Rail advocates are pushing for the state government’s commitment toward the return of passenger rail to the region.
It comes after a Western Rail Alliance meeting last week in Hamilton where representatives discussed the state government’s lack of announcements for passenger rail in western Victoria.
The Western Rail Alliance has representatives from Horsham and Ararat Rural Cities and the Southern Grampians, Glenelg, Northern Grampians, Yarriambiack, Hindmarsh and West Wimmera shires. They launched a feasibility study 18 months ago, which said a rail service to Horsham and Hamilton was feasible.
Horsham Rural City mayor Pam Clarke said the group met with Transport Minister Jacinta Allan on many occasions in what appeared to be “encouraging,” but was yet to receive support, which is frustrating.
“Minister Allan is on record saying that all passengers deserve reliable and punctual services – no matter where they live. That is not yet the case for those living in western Victoria,” she said,
Cr Clarke said the group was grateful that passenger rail services had increased to Ararat, but there has been no sign of improvements beyond Ararat.
Northern Grampians Shire mayor Tony Driscoll said the state government are not meeting the needs of all Victorians.
He said the group have sought an “urgent commitment” from the state government and all candidates wishing to secure support in western Victoria.
Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said the return of passenger rail to Horsham was not the priority.
“The state government’s priority is to complete the Murray Basin rail project and freight passenger rail separation project,” she said.
Ms Allan said they are upgrading “every regional rail line,” which includes a new stabling at Ararat to run a fifth service.
She said the state government was also working with the Horsham community on a bus review to see better connections and has extended the Overland agreement despite funding cuts from the South Australian government.
“Our community should beware of promises that are undercosted and won’t be delivered,” she said.
The Coalition has promised the return of passenger rail to Horsham with a $19 billion pledge to build a high-speed rail network across Victoria.
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