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Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan is optimistic long-awaited funding for the North East rail line will be announced in the May federal Budget.
Ms McGowan welcomed speculation in a report in the Herald-Sun that money to upgrade the Melbourne-to-Albury railway line would be part of a Victorian infrastructure package worth $1 billion that will be announced in the federal Budget.
The package is expected to provide money for the train link to Melbourne airport as well as improvements to the Warrnambool and Bairnsdale lines.
‘‘(The report) is the most exciting news,’’ Ms McGowan said.
‘‘I understand it is speculation, but with all the work we have done and the fight we have been having over the past four years, I am confident the government is now going to come to the table.
‘‘If this is true and I’m very optimistic that it is, it’s going to be the game-changer that we need; not only to fix up the train, but to get a premium service to allow Albury-Wodonga, Wangaratta, Benalla and North East Victoria to grow.’’
Ms McGowan said the confirmation of funding by the Federal Government in its May budget for the North East rail line would help address the inequity of passenger rail services for the region. She said the next step would be working with the Victorian Government to encourage its investment in new rolling stock.
“It will be my call to the Victorian Minister Jacinta Allan and to the Premier Daniel Andrews to put the money in their budget now to give us state-of-the-art rolling stock,’’ Ms McGowan said.
‘‘We don’t want to be waiting four or five more years for this, we are ready to go.’’
This article first appeared on www.sheppnews.com.au
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