United front is more ef­fec­tive

Seymour Telegraph - - NEWS - By Gus McCub­bing

Mem­ber for North­ern Vic­to­ria Ja­clyn Symes be­lieves the money on the ta­ble for the North East line up­grade is ‘‘nowhere near enough’’. It is why she is call­ing on the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to in­vest more.

She said Vic­to­ria Gov­ern­ment sources es­ti­mated $200 mil­lion more was re­quired from Com­mon­wealth to de­liver the stan­dard class two track, al­low­ing trains to run up to 130 km/h.

‘‘There have been re­ally pos­i­tive dis­cus­sions with the Min­is­ter for Trans­port Jac­inta Al­lan and the fed­eral coun­ter­parts,’’ Ms Symes said.

‘‘So that’s why I’ve called on my state col­leagues to help, be­cause there’s a lit­tle bit of flux up in Can­berra at the mo­ment . . . I just want to make sure this is­sue is on the ta­ble.

‘‘We all wel­comed the $100 mil­lion from the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to fix the North East track (in 2017) but our ex­perts have been meet­ing and we know that it’s just nowhere near enough.’’

Now Ms Symes is call­ing on Mem­ber for Euroa Steph Ryan to help lobby the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment for ad­di­tional fund­ing.

In a let­ter writ­ten to Ms Ryan on Fe­bru­ary 22, Ms Symes said while the $100 mil­lion would im­prove pas­sen­ger ser­vice re­silience, re­li­a­bil­ity, and ride qual­ity, she be­lieved it was not enough to bring the track up to an ac­cept­able stan­dard.

‘‘The Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment has in­vested $2 mil­lion to de­sign new rolling stock for the North East line to re­place the ex­ist­ing clas­sic fleet,’’ the let­ter said.

‘‘For these new modern trains to run re­li­ably and at op­ti­mal speed on the North East line we need at least a class two stan­dard track — this is the stan­dard that ap­plies across the ma­jor­ity of the re­gional pas­sen­ger net­work in Vic­to­ria, where V/Loc­ity trains runs.

‘‘I hope to work with you over the com­ing months to se­cure the in­vest­ment nec­es­sary to bring the track up to an ac­cept­able stan­dard, to re­li­ably and op­ti­mally run the new trains the Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment has said it will pro­vide.

‘‘I in­vite your as­sis­tance to urge your Fed­eral par­lia­men­tary col­leagues, in­clud­ing the cur­rent Min­is­ter for In­fra­struc­ture and Trans­port, to pro­vide the ad­di­tional fund­ing so that the pas­sen­gers on the North East line re­ceive the ser­vices they de­serve.’’

But Ms Ryan said the main rea­son for break­downs on the North East line was the qual­ity of the rolling stock which she said was a state re­spon­si­bil­ity.

‘‘Com­muters on our line are sick of these petty po­lit­i­cal games. They want ac­tion, not more ex­cuses from Daniel An­drews and Ja­clyn Symes,’’ Ms Ryan said.

Ms Ryan also said Vic­to­rian Premier Daniel An­drews made a com­mit­ment in April last year to fix the trains if the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment in­vested to fix the tracks.

‘‘A month later, the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment an­nounced $140 mil­lion to fix the line and I have been re­mind­ing the premier of that com­mit­ment in Par­lia­ment ever since,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘Ms Symes’ let­ter, which was sent to the me­dia be­fore it was sent to MPs, is a shame­ful at­tempt to wrig­gle out of Daniel An­drews’ com­mit­ment which was sold as an iron­clad guar­an­tee.’’

The North East rail­way line runs from Mel­bourne to Al­bury via Sey­mour, Be­nalla, Wan­garatta and Wodonga.

Call to join forces: Mem­ber for North­ern Vic­to­ria Ja­clyn Symes is call­ing on Mem­ber for Euroa Steph to help lobby the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for fur­ther in­vest­ment into the North East rail line.

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