Train dream from Deni to Echuca

The Riverine Herald - - NEWS - By Zoe McMaugh Tom Weyrich.

A PAS­SEN­GER rail ser­vice be­tween Echuca and De­niliquin must be put on the NSW Gov­ern­ment’s pri­or­ity list.

It comes with a new push to have fund­ing pro­vided for an ac­tive rail line be­tween the two towns, and fol­lows a fur­ther $2 mil­lion be­ing pledged by the Victorian Gov­ern­ment to in­crease the speed ca­pa­bil­ity of the Echuca to Bendigo line from 80km/h to 140km/h.

The num­ber of pas­sen­ger ser­vices be­tween Echuca and Bendigo will also be in­creased.

Mur­ray River coun­cil­lor and po­ten­tial One Na­tion can­di­date for the up­com­ing state elec­tion, Tom Weyrich, is lead­ing the rail push.

‘‘Vic­to­ria won’t ex­tend its in­vest­ment into New South Wales, so we need to go to the NSW Gov­ern­ment be­fore the (March) elec­tion,’’ Cr Weyrich said.

‘‘The New South Wales Gov­ern­ment is cashed up, par­tic­u­larly af­ter sell­ing the poles and wires, and is busy spend­ing our money all over the place.

‘‘I can’t see why it would be such a big deal to in­vest in a pas­sen­ger ser­vice be­tween Echuca and De­niliquin.

‘‘A $2 mil­lion in­vest­ment would cer­tainly make the Deni line more vi­able. It would in­crease pa­tron­age and vi­a­bil­ity of the line, and also the towns ac­ces­si­ble on it.

‘‘There is just some­thing about train travel — it’s safer, it’s of­ten quicker, and of­ten more com­fort­able; it is a far bet­ter way to travel.’’

Cr Weyrich said one per­ceived set-back to the plan is the lack of sta­tion fa­cil­i­ties at Mathoura and De­niliquin, but this could be eas­ily over­come.

‘‘I don’t see it as a ma­jor hur­dle,’’ he said.

‘‘We could look at por­ta­ble plat­forms.

‘‘There would need to be some pro­to­cols com­pleted, but I don’t see it as cost­ing a whole lot of money to re­in­state the line for a pas­sen­ger ser­vice.

‘‘In the long term this could en­sure the line re­mains open, and it has got to have a pos­i­tive ben­e­fit for the com­mu­ni­ties.

‘‘Mathoura has suf­fered enor­mously with the forests be­ing closed down (and con­verted to a Na­tional Park) and as a re­sult of coun­cil amal­ga­ma­tions, and this could be one way of get­ting some­thing back.

‘‘If this line can be re­in­stated, it could open up the op­por­tu­nity for some­one to start small tours of the Na­tional Park and sur­rounds at Mathoura.

‘‘The Echuca to Bendigo line started as a trial and look at it now — on a reg­u­lar ba­sis the trains are full and the new in­vest­ment will also help in­crease the num­ber of ser­vices.’’

Cr Weyrich has vowed to ac­tively pur­sue the rail con­nec­tion to De­niliquin through his role with Mur­ray River Coun­cil, and in­tends to put a no­tice of mo­tion to the next meet­ing to start ne­go­ti­a­tions with Ed­ward River Coun­cil.

He said if his ap­pli­ca­tion to be­come the One Na­tion can­di­date for the NSW Mur­ray is suc­cess­ful, the rail link will be­come one of his key elec­tion plat­forms.

Cr Weyrich said he’s been in­vited to meet with party mem­bers for a for­mal in­ter­view re­gard­ing his ap­pli­ca­tion.

While a date had not been set at the time of go­ing to print yes­ter­day, he ex­pects it will be early this month.

He said his in­vi­ta­tion to in­ter­view as a po­ten­tial can­di­date does not guar­an­tee his pre­s­e­lec­tion, but said it’s a pos­i­tive step.

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