Regional train passengers will be condemned to a future of lengthy delays and longer travel times if the Andrews Government steamrolls plans for a dedicated airport rail link.
Labor’s embattled Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne was asked today in State Parliament about whether regional passengers would have longer travel times if the airport rail link did not have new, dedicated lines between Southern Cross Station in Melbourne’s CBD and Sunshine, in Melbourne’s west.
In a bizarre response, the Minister said that train travel times were not part of her portfolio responsibilities.
Shadow Minister for Regional Public Transport Steph Ryan said it was critical for regional passengers that a new, dedicated line was built.
“The Andrews Government has been given plenty of opportunity to rule out building the airport rail link on the cheap, but refused,” Ms Ryan said.
“Fast, reliable rail is critical to managing population growth and making sure all our state shares in the benefits.
“Daniel Andrews will be condemning regional passengers to lengthy delays on congested rail lines if he doesn’t build a dedicated track for the airport rail link between Southern Cross and Sunshine.
“City-centric Labor is out of touch with the demands of our regional communities and ignorant of the countless Victorians who are inconvenienced by delays, breakdowns and cancellations on a daily basis.”
Earlier this week Labor’s Transport Infrastructure Minister was given two opportunities to rule out building airport rail link on the cheap, but also failed to commit to building a dedicated rail line.
It comes as regional passengers continue to be plagued by frustrating delays and unreliable train services, with customer satisfaction hitting a 10-year low.
Five of the state’s 11 regional train lines – Bairnsdale, Gippsland, Bendigo, Ararat-Maryborough, and Albury-Wodonga – have not met punctuality targets in a single month over the past two years.
“Daniel Andrews has found billions to put into Melbourne level crossing cost blowouts, while country passengers continue to miss out,” Ms Ryan said.
The Andrews Labor Government invested just four per cent of the capital funding for public transport in this year’s State Budget into regional Victoria.