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MORE than 900 armed security guards would patrol every train station in Melbourne and Victoria's main regional cities from 6pm to the last train under a Coalition state government.
The police transit safety squad would also be expanded by 100, bringing to 350 the number of officers patrolling the train, tram and bus networks.
The Liberals' $200 million public transport safety pledge is designed to give the party a much-needed momentum boost in the lead-up to next November's state election.
Premier John Brumby said the plan raised more questions than it answered, but the Police Association said it was good news for train travellers, and the Public Transport Users Association said it would go a long way to allaying people's fears about travelling at night.
Under the plan, announced by Coalition leader Ted Baillieu at yesterday's Liberal state council meeting, 940 Victoria Police ''protective services officers'' would be employed specifically to patrol train stations at night.
They would be armed and have powers of arrest, and would cover every metropolitan Melbourne station and all stations in Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Traralgon.
''We'll turn stations from places of fear into places of safety,'' Mr Baillieu said.
''We want anyone - a young girl, an elderly woman - travelling home on the train at night to do so with confidence and not with fear.''
Exactly how the protective services officers were deployed would be a matter for the chief police commissioner, but Mr Baillieu said there would be enough for two officers on every station from 6pm until after the last train has left, every night of the week.
He estimated the 940 new security guards and 100 extra transit police would cost the state budget $200 million over four years.
Details of how the scheme would be funded would be announced closer to the election, but fares would not be increased to pay for it.
Mr Brumby said the key to community safety was extra police, and Labor had increased police numbers by nearly 1900 whereas the previous Liberal government had cut numbers by nearly 2000.
''Their form is to cut and to close things down,'' he said.
Mr Baillieu's spokesman, Paul Price, last night disputed the claims, saying: ''Mr Brumby's numbers are simply rubbish and they change every day.''
Victoria Police Association secretary Greg Davies said 100 more transit police and 940 more security guards on stations ''has got to be a great thing for travellers''.
'''At least somebody now is taking the problem seriously and trying to address it,'' he said.
Public Transport Users Association president Daniel Bowen said having extra staff on stations ''would be a big help''.
''Many people are concerned about safety on railway stations after dark and this would largely solve that problem,'' he said.
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