Euroa MP and Shadow Minister for Regional Public Transport Steph Ryan has been barred from attending the government’s consultation process for the design of new VLocity trains for the north east line.
The workshop, held in Wangaratta yesterday, was organised by the Department of Transport to gauge the views of local commuter, stakeholder and community groups, however Ms Ryan was told that it would not be appropriate for her to attend and that the meeting was by ‘invite only.’
Ms Ryan said she was extremely disappointed by the government’s closed-door consultation process, particularly after she questioned the Public Transport Minister on the matter earlier this year.
“I am disappointed by the selectiveness of the Andrews Government’s process, particularly given the high level of community interest in new trains for the north east line,” Ms Ryan said.
“When asked if I could attend the workshop as Shadow Minister for Regional Public Transport, I was told that it would not be appropriate.
“Instead, the Department of Transport have informed me that once the design is finalised, a summary of the stakeholder feedback and ultimate design will be published on the government’s website.
“Today’s invitation-only workshop only targets a small percentage of the local community for their feedback and raises further questions about the government’s transparency with this project.”
Ms Ryan said that the government had already had three years to design new trains however, they still couldn’t answer basic questions about what the design would look like.
In a media release in June 2016, then Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan stated that the government would ‘seek feedback in the coming months on what features local passengers would like to see in these new trains, such as buffet cars and luggage and bike facilities.’ (Media release, 1 June 2016)
“For three years Labor have claimed to have been designing new long-haul trains while our service gets worse and the trains on our line continue to break down,” Ms Ryan said.
“Back in March when I pressed the Minister in Parliament on the design of these new trains, she couldn’t provide a clear answer as to what the new long-haul trains will look like.
“To get an accurate understanding of commuter needs the Andrews Labor Government need to hold public consultations with regional communities, particularly those along the north east rail line.
“The community should get to have their say on the design of these new trains. The consultation process should not be kept behind closed doors.”
Ms Ryan also called on the Andrews Government to come clean on how many trains would be allocated to the north east line.
“The government has said an order has gone in for just six of the 18 VLocity trains they promised. They should tell us how many of those six trains will go to the north east line.”