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The is no doubt that it is now Ballarat's turn for further infrastructure investment for Ballarat Rail from the Federal Government.
The Victorian State government to their great credit have invested $518m and in fact quite a bit more into the Ballarat Rail Line Upgrade. These developments cannot be underestimated as they are an important/vital building block towards duplication of the line to Melton and quadruplication/electrification from Melton and Sunshine.
There was an Important development that took place in our beautiful city this weekend.
SUPPORT; Liberal delegates show their support for the motion at the Liberal Party conference in Ballarat on the weekend.
The Victorian Liberal Party conference passed a resolution which states:
"That this State Council call upon the Federal Liberal Party to commit to fund and liaise with the State Government to construct Fast Rail to Ballarat within the current term of Government. This includes quadruplication and electrification on the Ballarat line between Sunshine and Melton to separate Metro Trains terminating at Melton/Bacchus Marsh from the High-Speed rail services between Melbourne and Ballarat."
This is huge for Ballarat.
The Liberal Party in Victoria must be commended for this resolution. It is huge because the Federal Government will be hearing from their own people on the ground that the Ballarat Rail line needs attention.
Now I don't want us to get caught up in the weeds of politics and who did what first, etc. What needs to be understood here is how the stars are really aligning around Ballarat duplication/quadruplication. Hats off to everyone who have done their bit for the improvement of the Ballarat Rail line over many years.
Stripping out the politics (because I am not a politician!) the way I see it is that we now have support from:
The all important tunnel as part of the Airport Link pproject
This is a broad consensus (with maybe a few individual exceptions) from basically everyone!
I wish to address the issue of the rail tunnel into Southern Cross from West Footscray. It is crucial and needs to happen for both the Airport Link and future Regional services as the demand builds. This build would start somewhere around the 2025.
What we are talking about has to be done tunnel or no tunnel. This bit needs to happen 'within the term of this Federal government". In other words way before the tunnel build commences.
$518 million being spent on the nearly complete Ballarat Rail Upgrade is great but more needs to be done by the Federal Government to build a faster regional service.
What it does though is bring forward the possibility of sub hour services between Ballarat and Melbourne by not having to stop at Melton, Cobblebank (new), Rockbank, Caroline Springs, Ardeer and Deer Park. It will also reduce ALL trips by 12-15 minutes as 6 stops of 2 minutes will be cut out of the Ballarat VLine service. Brilliant news!
The Australian Government is investing $100 billion over 10 years from 2019-20 as per the 2019 Budget. A $3.8 billion infrastructure spending program from the federal government has last week been brought forward in response to calls for economic stimulus.
This is a positive sign. But unfortunately rail duplication to Ballarat is not on the list for this round of funding.
To be fair the Federal Government has a 'Faster Rail' paper and has committed to the first project "...now committing $2 billion to help deliver faster rail between Melbourne and Geelong - a nationally significant commuter corridor."
MAJOR HUB: Sunshine looks set to be a major part of the western rail network
It continues, "Our plan would see several fast rail connections to regional centres assessed, planned and built over the next twenty years."
Then follows a list of 12 projects of which the Ballarat rail line is one.
It is my firm belief that Ballarat cannot just sit back and 'wait some 20 years' to get the funding.
No, we need the funding in the next round of allocations from the $100billion fund.
There is now a need for all of us to head off to Canberra in one big delegation to put our case strongly, firmly and with passion. This will ensure the Ballarat line gets the funding in accordance with the Victorian Liberal Party resolution.
Only then may we see the funding brought forward.
Who will join me, 59MinuteNick, (the squeaky wheel) in the first quarter of next year to go to Canberra and see the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development?
This article first appeared on www.thecourier.com.au
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