HORSHAM Rural City mayor Mark Radford is confident trains will run from Horsham to Ararat into the future.
Cr Radford said representatives of the municipality, Northern Grampians and Southern Grampians shires had met with Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne and the Department of Transport after making a video plea in February.
"When we met the minister (our) small-scale request was that maybe we could have a shuttle train service using the existing rail and stations, which would link Horsham and the Wimmera with the current Ararat services," he said.
Trains leave Ararat for Melbourne six times a day, and Cr Radford said the company Wimmera Rail Services had drafted a timetable for shuttle services from Horsham and Hamilton.
"The short-term ask for Hamilton was improved bus services," he said.
"When we met with the department a few weeks ago, (director of technical services) John Martin and (chief executive) Sunil Bhalla were our representatives. I'm told it was a productive meeting and no one said no ... (and) they agreed to work together."
Cr Radford said the council hoped to make use of standard-gauge trains that were no longer running on the Albury train line, having been replaced with VLocity diesel trains.
"There is a possibility that those standard-gauge train sets could be used for this shuttle service between Ararat and Horsham, so that's quite an exciting step forward," he said.
"The Regional Cities Victoria group has also written a letter of support for us in this campaign, which we received last week, so that adds to the advocacy."
Cr Radford said advocacy for the the $300 million Western Rail Project continued.
He said this plan involved re-gauging the track from Ararat to Ballarat as part of an overall goal to reinstate train services between Melbourne and Horsham and Melbourne and Hamilton.
"Obviously in the long-term, we'd love to have VLocity trains coming to the Wimmera," he said.
"We're waiting for the business case to be funded, and that includes new crossings and all sorts of large upgrades which makes the project really expensive."
Cr Radford urged residents to write a letter to Ms Horne asking for her support of the project.
"It's not going to happen tomorrow, it probably won't happen next year, but we are a step closer than we were 12 months ago."
A Department of Transport spokesman confirmed it recently met with representatives from Horsham Rural City and Southern Grampians Shire councils.
He said no specific transport solutions were proposed or agreed to.
"The Department will continue working with council to look at local transport needs in light of demographic and economic trends," he said.
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