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While an agreement with three neighbouring councils is yet to be formally inked, Greater Shepparton City Council is spruiking the formation of a new alliance for better regional rail.
Moira, Mitchell and Strathbogie shire councils have indicated in-principle support towards forming a rail alliance with Greater Shepparton, according to the local council, to help advocacy efforts gather steam.
The new alliance hopes to secure infrastructure upgrades to the Shepparton rail corridor and stay on track to reaching the council’s goal of eight daily return VLocity services, each a whisker above two hours of travel time.
A memorandum of understanding was still yet to be signed, but an alliance has been formed, according to the council yesterday.
At the September meeting, the council voted to work towards a memorandum of understanding with Strathbogie, Mitchell and Moira shires and to again stress the region’s rail needs in a letter to Victoria’s Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan.
But division in the council persisted at the meeting about the wording of the motion considered and whether a letter written to the minister solely from the council would constitute a joint approach.
In a statement on the ‘‘rail alliance’’ released yesterday, Mayor Dinny Adem thanked the Victorian Government ‘‘for recognising the importance of the Shepparton line’’ and committing to improved service by 2020, but pointed to a shortfall in funding.
‘‘Unfortunately, there is still no budget allocated for additional works required to actually run VLocity trains or achieve adequate journey times, such as level crossings, and track and signalling upgrades.
‘‘We’re hoping to see a significant funding allocation to this project in the 2018-19 state budget,’’ Cr Adem said.
The Victorian Government last year pledged $43.5million to the Shepparton line service, including extra services and long-term planning and infrastructure works.
‘‘The alliance with Mitchell, Moira and Strathbogie shire councils will improve our advocacy platform for infrastructure upgrades to bring improved services, resulting in wider social and economic benefits to all collaborating councils,’’ Cr Adem said in the statement.
This article first appeared on www.sheppnews.com.au
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