Fast rail plan, si’l vous plait

State Op­po­si­tion’s ‘fast track’ to help de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion

Wangaratta Chronicle - - News - By STRUAN JONES

THE Vic­to­rian Op­po­si­tion has upped the ante on re­gional rail, promis­ing rev­o­lu­tion­ary up­grades to the state’s pas­sen­ger rail net­work.

Op­po­si­tion leader Matthew Guy this week out­lined his am­bi­tious plan to de­liver 200km per hour “Euro­peanstyle High Speed Rail” across the state, in­clud­ing the North East line, where travel times be­tween Wodonga and Mel- bourne are to be slashed from 207 min­utes to 164 min­utes.

With soar­ing pop­u­la­tion growth and con­ges­tion in Mel­bourne pre­dicted to be a key is­sue in Novem­ber’s state elec­tion, Mr Guy is link­ing the re­gional rail project with his plan to de­cen­tralise Vic­to­ria’s pop­u­la­tion.

“Bring­ing Vic­to­ria’s cities closer to­gether with Euro­pean-style High Speed Rail is the cor­ner­stone of the Lib- eral Na­tion­als plan to ease the pop­u­la­tion squeeze by de­cen­tral­is­ing our jobs and our pop­u­la­tion,” Mr Guy said.

The “su­per-in­fras­truc­ture project” is es­ti­mated to cost $15 bil­lion to $19 bil­lion to be com­pleted within the next 10 years.

How­ever, in re­sponse to a ques­tion from the Wan­garatta

Chron­i­cle, there were no de­tails around how the up­grades will be funded, other than promis­ing not to in­tro­duce a new tax or levy.

Mr Guy has said that in ad­di­tion to re­build­ing ev­ery re­gional pas­sen­ger line in the state, two fleets of faster, more com­fort­able trains would be or­dered.

He said the great­est im­prove­ments in travel times are ex­pected on the Gee­long and Bal­larat lines, where the Gee­long to Mel­bourne trip, cur­rently 58 min­utes, will be cut to 32 min­utes, and the Mel­bourne to Bal­larat jour­ney short­ened from 73 min­utes to 45 min­utes.

But Vic­to­rian Pub­lic Trans­port Min­is­ter Jac­inta Al­lan said there are more ques­tions than an­swers in this propo­si­tion, and said the Lib­eral Na­tional par­ties have a poor track record when it comes to re­gional rail.

Speak­ing on cur­rent ef­forts to im­prove the North East line, Ms Al­lan said de­sign work is on­go­ing for new rolling stock, which “will be ready to go once track work is com­pleted”.

That is at least two years away, with the Aus­tralian Rail Track Cor­po­ra­tion still to fi­nalise scope works for the $235 mil­lion track project, which will up­grade it to a Vic­to­rian Class 2 per­for­mance stan­dard, al­low­ing trains to travel at speeds of 130kph.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.