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Member for Indi Cathy McGowan has challenged the Federal Government to act now on poor rail services in north-east Victoria.
Speaking in parliament on Monday, Ms McGowan said for more than eight years regional communities in north-east Victoria had been frustrated by significant engineering failings on the Wodonga-Melbourne rail line.
In 2016 trains on the line were on time 79.7 per cent of the time, with the rate dropping to 55.2 per cent in November.
There are 23 sections with speed restrictions applied by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) between Albury and Melbourne.
Ms McGowan tabled a motion calling for the government to ensure passenger services are considered core business for the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).
The motion also called for the ARTC to release and review the current agreement between it and the Victorian Government for the Wodonga-Melbourne rail line.
‘‘This is effective action the government can take now to deliver improved rail services in north-east Victoria and across regional Australia,’’ Ms McGowan said.
‘‘For the long term, it is vital the government develops a plan for passenger rail services that meets the economic, social and environmental needs of regional Australia.
‘‘As a local, independent Member of Parliament, I’m standing up for rural and regional people who need access to public transport.
‘‘It is absolutely the responsibility of the Australian Government to ensure the infrastructure that supports rail services is maintained at a level that allows services to run at their optimum level.’’
Ms McGowan welcomed the news that Transport and Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester would ride the line.
She called on Mr Chester to come to the region with a budget commitment and a plan for action.
She also called on Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan to take the issue seriously.
‘‘The Victorian Government committed $17million in last year’s budget. This year they should be planning to act upon that commitment,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s time to stop the buck-passing. This is a problem that is beyond apportioning blame and needs a collective commitment to act together.’’
This article first appeared on www.sheppnews.com.au
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