An elected Nationals and Liberals government will put passenger rail services for western Victoria firmly back on the table, with Member for Lowan Emma Kealy today announcing a comprehensive investigation into all options for improving rail connectivity in Lowan.
The Nationals and Liberals have pledged support for a business case into returning passenger trains to Horsham and Hamilton, a service these communities have consistently pushed for but have been denied under the Andrews Labor Government.
Ms Kealy said there were many options for making passenger rail a reality for western Victorians, and a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of the possibilities was the first step in determining the best way forward.
“Labor has given away all the spare train sets in Victoria, so we need to go back to square one and put all options on the table,” she said.
“For example, Spanish rail company Talgo recently offered to fund the trial of a fast-rail service between Mt Barker and Adelaide, with the train manufacturer themselves putting up the $2.5 million to enable the trial to go ahead.
“There are also opportunities to use European-style trains with adjustable bogies that can travel on both standard and broad-gauge rail lines, meaning limited additional infrastructure would be required to establish a direct route from western Victorian to Melbourne.”
Ms Kealy said better access to passenger rail services would make a huge difference to the many local residents who regularly needed to travel to larger centres for education, health and specialist appointments.
“A 2018 pre-election commitment from the Liberals and Nationals to return passenger rail to Horsham and Hamilton was emphatically supported by voters. But despite this and the extremely limited existing public transport options locally, the Andrews Labor Government has made no attempt to extend passenger rail beyond Ararat,” she said.
“The Overland is currently the only passenger rail service to western Victoria, but the Andrews Labor Government has also ignored the community’s wishes when it comes to this service, repeatedly failing to commit to its long-term operation or review timetabling arrangements to make the service more accessible.
“Improving connectivity between our communities and larger centres is vital to the long-term sustainability of our region, and I am committed to continuing to work alongside our communities to make this a reality.”