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WARRNAMBOOL line passengers are “expected” to have a direct one-train service to Melbourne under the new Labor Government election pledge.
New plan: Transport Minister Jacinta Allan addresses the media in Melbourne this week.
A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said on Wednesday what was announced the previous day was a $150 million in funding to plan for fast rail from Melbourne to Geelong and Ballarat – which would mean flow-on faster travel times for Warrnambool passengers.
"If re-elected we will get on with the planning but it’s likely that Warrnambool line passengers still have trains directly accessing the city," she said.
The spokeswoman said that in the last budget the Government announced $50 million to start the work, which aimed to reduce travel times from Melbourne to both Geelong and Ballarat.
Labor South West Coast candidate Kylie Gaston said that in future it was likely there would be a dedicated one-train service directly from Warrnambool to Melbourne.
She said passengers would have the choice to get on the faster express train to Melbourne at Geelong.
“I think having the choice will be great,” she said.
The total costs and staging will be determined by the planning works and the proposal will include looking at electrification from Melbourne to Geelong.
"Many places around the world are electrified and any rail projects adhere to strict safety standards," she said.
On Tuesday the Coalition claimed Warrnambool line passengers would be forced to change trains at Geelong under the government’s new rail plan.
Premier Daniel Andrews outlined a plan to take over regional rail lines into the city to increase capacity for the Geelong to Melbourne and Ballarat to Melbourne services, slashing travel times if re-elected.
Opposition transport spokesman David Davis said south-west passengers would be treated like cattle.
He said the Andrews Government had been forced to match the Liberal National's comprehensive European-style fast train proposal.
"They have been fluffing around, trying to match us, but they have not done their homework," he said.
"Warrnambool line passengers will have to de-train, drag their bags across a station platform and get on another train.
"It's dump and run. Warrnambool line passengers will be treated like second-class citizens, like cattle.”
Mr Davis said the plan to take over regional designated rail lines into the city was outrageous.
"The Andrews Government couldn't give a hoot about country Victorians. They are arrogant and panicked," he said.
Ms Allan said in Ballarat on Wednesday that the Labor Government were offering real projects and real benefits to passengers through a regional rail revival.
She said the broad program meant faster trains to the regions with greater capacity to run into the city.
The Labor Government had the right right projects in the right order and a proven record of investing and delivering, she said.
"We have a lot of work to do rebuilding the regional network. It's an honest plan based on evidence," she said.
This article first appeared on www.standard.net.au
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