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The federal election results have left Greater Geelong in an interesting position.
With the seats of Corio and Corangamite now both held by Labor, we have billions of dollars in Coalition funding pledges but no local Coalition MP to keep these high on the government’s agenda.
Of course, council’s hope and expectation is that the re-elected Morrison government will make good on its promised projects for our region, and we have no reason to believe they won’t.
One thing the council is particularly passionate about driving ahead quickly is fast rail.
This project has been ramped up recently with both the federal and state governments announcing serious funding.
The Federal Government made a $2 billion pre-election promise, contingent on matching funding from the state.
That’s in addition to the recent $5 billion funding commitment by both the federal and state governments (with a further $5 billion offered by a private consortium) to build the Tullamarine Airport fast rail — but that project doesn’t include the regions of Victoria.
Council has already done much of the work on regional fast rail and will continue to lead the way.
In April 2018 we commissioned a technical report that laid out how a 32-minute trip from Geelong to Southern Cross via Sunshine could be achieved.
Shortly we will be publishing a “green paper” that will provide an undeniable business case about why fast rail is necessary for regional Victoria, and a clear plan for how it can be rolled out.
So here’s the critical point. With a funding commitment of at least $12 billion, the business case commissioned by the council clearly outlines how the fast rail for Geelong and Ballarat can also be achieved with this level of funding.
Our work to date has dramatically reduced the need for much more to be done, so now is the time to invest in the regions and not leave us to be an afterthought.
Train travel is a big issue for Geelong residents. Picture: Alan BarberDon’t let the federal and state governments make us wait until after 2026 and beyond to start this project.
The benefits for us here are obvious – we have thousands of people commuting daily to Melbourne for work, and this number will only increase as our population grows.
Our services are currently already at a ridiculously unsustainable 140 per cent capacity!
The green paper draws on examples from European countries where fast rail between major cities and regional centres has had a transformational effect — not just on the regions, but on the major cities as well.
This is a very important part of the case for regional fast rail that must not be forgotten: it can play a major role in shaping Melbourne’s long-term liveability by reducing the pressures created by its population growth.
Melbourne’s population is heading towards nine million by 2050, with urban sprawl creeping further and further away from the city centre, and the cost of housing getting more out of reach for the average family.
Melbourne’s roads and rail network are clogged, and getting worse.
This article first appeared on www.geelongadvertiser.com.au
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