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WESTERN Victorian councils are banding together to advocate for a feasibility analysis for shuttle services linking their regional centres.
Staff and representatives from the Southern Grampians Shire and neighbouring Glenelg Shire and Horsham Rural City met in Hamilton yesterday to explore options for passenger rail services from Ararat through Hamilton to Portland and from West Wimmera to Ararat through Horsham.
Southern Grampians Shire mayor Albert Calvano said Hamilton was at the centre of south-west Victoria but had poor public transport connections.
“We know that passenger rail is a key driver of regional population growth,” Cr Calvano said.
“We’ve seen what the fast train service to Ararat has done for communities along the route from Ballarat to Ararat.
“It helps people get to work and school and it connects our regional communities.”
Cr Calvano said passenger rail could open up exciting new opportunities for students from Portland or Hamilton who hoped to study in Ballarat.
Passenger rail would potentially reduce transport times and fuel costs for commuters, while reducing greenhouse emissions.
“As a region, we know that better public transport is important to boost our livability and our attractiveness as a great place to live and invest.”Cr Calvano said the region’s peak advocacy body, the Great South Coast Group, had identified the need to explore the feasibility of passenger rail services from Ararat to Portland, singling it out as a priority regional project.
A feasibility study would identify all barriers and opportunities associated with reinstating passenger rail across the Western District, while assessing required infrastructure and estimating the potential usage.
This article first appeared on www.standard.net.au
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