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The Victorian and Federal Governments have dipped into their yearly budgets to improve a notorious rail line to Shepparton.
The Victorian Government today announced $80 million would come from this year's budget to complete stage 3 of the Shepparton Line Upgrade on top of $320 million promised by the Commonwealth.
Further investment will still be needed, however, to better link the line's travellers to the Melbourne CBD.
"This is a great achievement and it needed to be done to fix the Shepparton corridor," said Sam Birrell, chief executive of the Committee for Greater Shepparton.
"There needs to be a long-term strategic plan on how to get regional trains to the centre of Melbourne."
Announcement follows years of lobbyingToday's announcement came after years of forceful lobbying from the Shepparton community to upgrade the ageing line, bringing it up to speed with services in other regional centres.
The upgrades will include stabling works north of Shepparton and platform extensions at Mooroopna, Murchison East, and Nagambie, as well as a crossing loop extension at Murchison East.
Trains will travel up to 130 kilometres per hour and there will be nine return services per day on the line once work is completed.
Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan with the Member for Shepparton, Suzanna Sheed.(ABC Goulburn Murray: Courtney Howe)Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said the lobbying effort led by the Independent Member for Shepparton, Suzanna Sheed, was what led to the investment.
"This line hasn't had the investment over the years and decades previously that it needed to have, and it's a big job to do," she said.
"For too long, Shepparton did look at other regional centres and saw their rail lines getting upgraded and extra services being delivered, and Shepparton was demanding it was their turn."
Ms Sheed said rail had been her priority since before she had been elected to Parliament in 2014.
"We'd seen Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong, and the La Trobe Valley heavily invested in for rail, but we'd been left behind," she said.
"I have a vision of so many people coming into Shepparton on this service and it's a vision that we can now make real."
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More investment needed long termMr Birrell said the investment was a pivotal moment in the development of Shepparton as a major regional city.
He also said it was crucial governments continued to work together to secure stronger connectivity to Melbourne well beyond stage 3 of the project.
"Melbourne's one of the most significant cities in the Southern Hemisphere, so for us to be incredibly well connected to that city really lifts Shepparton in global terms," Mr Birrell said.
"And you'll find more people moving here."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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