Fast-rail con­nec­tion pledged

Benalla Ensign - - News -

An elected Lib­eral Na­tion­als Govern­ment will build a faster rail con­nec­tion be­tween Wodonga, Be­nalla and Mel­bourne, slash­ing travel times.

The state op­po­si­tion has pledged to build a ser­vice that will see the present travel time of three hours and 27 min­utes re­duced to two hours and 44 min­utes — a sav­ing of more than one and a half hours on a roundtrip.

Reach­ing speeds of 160 km/h on the Wodonga line, the statewide net­work will be the fastest in Aus­tralia.

At present trains on the line can only travel at about 115 km/h.

Mem­ber for Euroa Steph Ryan said the work would be sched­uled dur­ing the next decade.

‘‘That means that by 2030 there will be a sav­ing of about 30 min­utes in travel time from Be­nalla to Mel­bourne,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘An im­proved rail ser­vice brings op­por­tu­ni­ties, not just for em­ploy­ment, but also for ed­u­ca­tion and ac­cess to ser­vices, like for ex­am­ple spe­cial­ist med­i­cal ap­point­ments and those kinds of things.

‘‘The num­ber of peo­ple who speak to me and say they would use the train if they knew they would get where they need to go on time is over­whelm­ing.

‘‘This plan is about im­prov­ing not just travel time, but also the re­li­a­bil­ity of our trains — it’s re­ally the next step we need to el­e­vate the ser­vice.’’

This an­nounce­ment is part of the Lib­eral Na­tion­als push to de­cen­tralise Vic­to­ria’s pop­u­la­tion and Ms Ryan said the vi­sion was to build a state of cities and not be a city state fo­cused on Mel­bourne.

‘‘If we truly want to de­cen­tralise our state and bring our coun­try com­mu­ni­ties closer to­gether we need to build bet­ter re­gional rail and buy new­gen­er­a­tion trains, which is ex­actly what an elected Lib­eral Na­tion­als Govern­ment will do,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘La­bor’s band-aid fixes have failed to solve the ab­so­lute mess they’ve made on the north-east rail line, which has left pas­sen­gers on old, un­re­li­able trains and slow re­place­ment buses.

‘‘Peo­ple on the north-east line don’t want more of La­bor’s ne­glect, we want faster trains we can rely on.’’

The Lib­eral Na­tional plan is to achieve pop­u­la­tion de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion by build­ing a faster and more re­li­able rail­way net­work, con­nect­ing re­gional cen­tres and grow­ing re­gional jobs.

The party re­cently an­nounced a Pop­u­la­tion Com­mis­sion to man­age pop­u­la­tion growth through­out Vic­to­ria, the aim of which is to en­sure that re­gional cities have the in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vices needed for sus­tain­able growth.

One of the func­tions of the Pop­u­la­tion Com­mis­sion will be to en­sure re­gional cities, such as Be­nalla, re­ceive the right num­ber of doc­tors, hos­pi­tal beds, teach­ers, health­care work­ers and po­lice to match pop­u­la­tion growth.

State op­po­si­tion leader Matthew Guy said the plan to cut re­gional rail travel times was es­sen­tial to de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion.

‘‘To build a state of cities and grow all of Vic­to­ria, we need to build faster rail con­nect­ing to our re­gional cen­tres and we need to grow re­gional jobs and de­liver more ser­vices to the re­gions like teach­ers, doc­tors, health­care work­ers and po­lice,’’ Mr Guy said.

‘‘Vic­to­ria needs pop­u­la­tion growth, but it needs to be the right growth in the right places at the right time.

‘‘We can’t af­ford an­other four years of La­bor’s un­planned, un­man­aged pop­u­la­tion growth.

‘‘The Lib­eral Na­tion­als want to grow all of Vic­to­ria, not just Mel­bourne.’’

An im­proved rail ser­vice brings op­por­tu­ni­ties, not just for em­ploy­ment, but also for ed­u­ca­tion and ac­cess to ser­vices . . .

As part of the pro­posal they have also pledged to fund new-gen­er­a­tion, faster vari­ants of the V/Loc­ity trains, which will pro­vide im­proved com­fort, leg room, safety and amenity for pas­sen­gers.

Bring­ing Vic­to­ria’s cities closer to­gether with Euro­pean-style high-speed rail is the cor­ner­stone of the Lib­eral Na­tion­als’ plans.

High-speed rail con­nec­tions will also re­duce the amount of cars us­ing the Hume Hwy.

The es­ti­mated cost of the am­bi­tious project is be­tween $15 bil­lion and $19 bil­lion.

How­ever, the Lib­eral Na­tion­als have said it would not in­tro­duce a new tax or levy to fund it.

The project has the po­ten­tial to cre­ate more than 10 000 new jobs over sev­eral years. PRE­PAID BOOK­INGS TICK­ETS AT THE BAR

Fast-rail pledge: State Mem­ber for Euroa Steph Ryan was at Be­nalla Train Sta­tion on Wed­nes­day to an­nounce that an elected Lib­eral Na­tion­als Govern­ment would slash travel times on the north­east line.

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