The Victorian Government has rolled out its own Regional Rail plan, following The Nationals’ announcement recently for their regional rail vision if elected to government.
However, Labor’s grand plan doesn’t include the Seymour, Shepparton or North-East lines, with only Ballarat and Geelong residents to enjoy fast rail under the Government’s plan.
Premier Daniel Andrews said their Regional Rail Revival was about fixing the unreliability on regional lines, and providing more frequent services — but it won’t be local residents who will enjoy the upgrades.
‘‘The growth of Melbourne’s western suburbs, and the popularity of Geelong and Ballarat as commuter hubs, means our network needs more than just an upgrade: it needs redrawing,’’ he said.
‘‘That work has identified the projects we need to make fast rail to Geelong and Ballarat a reality — and a re-elected Labor Government will invest an extra $100 million to complete all the planning we need to get it done.’’
Member for Euroa Steph Ryan, who has campaigned heavily for upgrades to rail services in the region, described the plan as a ‘‘panicked alternative’’ to The Nationals’ plan.
She said in comparison to The Nationals’ $19 billion plan, Labor included no money for construction for at least four years and had overlooked the north east, Shepparton and Seymour lines entirely.
‘‘It is incredibly disappointing that the Shepparton, north east and Seymour lines aren’t even mentioned in Labor’s plan for regional rail,’’ Ms Ryan said.
‘‘Our commitments for regional rail are clear and we have allocated billions of dollars to getting on with the job.
‘‘We will upgrade the Shepparton, north east and Seymour line tracks to a class one standard, allowing trains to travel at speeds of up to 160 km/h and we will buy brand new long haul trains for the lines which will be on the tracks within our first term of government.
‘‘All Labor has done for the last four years is talk about improvements to our line, without delivering a single new train or any improvement in service. They have now told us that under a re-elected Labor Government, there will be another four years of talking about high speed rail for Geelong and Ballarat with no money for construction committed and no works starting.’’
Ms Ryan said Labor’s proposal did little for anyone living outside Geelong and Ballarat.
‘‘Labor’s plan will only serve two regional cities instead of every regional rail line,’’ Ms Ryan said.
‘‘If the government was serious about decentralising Victoria’s population and developing our whole state instead of just Melbourne, it would have included our region as well.’’