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PUBLIC Transport Victoria will have an unhappy fifth birthday on April 2 thanks to the behind-the-scenes actions of the State Government.
Daniel Andrews and Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan are so busy emasculating PTV, having transferred at least 163 positions to an unwieldy, struggling government department called DEDJTR that Ms Allan has forgotten about rail freight.
Nor does Roads and Ports Minister Luke Donnellan want anything to do with rail freight despite containers and grain on rail helping to keep Victoria’s highways, tollways such as CityLink and local roads safer.
David HodgettMs Allan needs to convene stakeholders including V/Line, the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, VicTrack and DEDJTR to justify why grain and other freight trains on lines such as Dunolly to Yelta, Murrayville, Manangatang and Sea Lake must cease on days when the temperature is forecast to be 33C.
This has nothing to do with issues such as when the Murray Basin Rail Project stage two trackworks start.
The call for a peer review by the Rail Freight Alliance must include not only NSW’s John Holland and Australian Rail Track Corporation rail network, but others such as Genesee and Wyoming in the Red Centre. G & W does not impose blanket speed restrictions on warmer days.
V/Line’s claim (“Row over rail claim”, WT March 8) that it has transported “record amounts of grain” is untrue.
According to the Bureau of Industry Economics in a 1978 report, in 1970-71, the Victorian Railways transported 2.6 million tonnes of grain.
In those days, the railways largely used four-wheeled GY wheat wagons that carried about 22 tonnes each, so it was all the more of an achievement.
The Coalition will work to encourage more freight on rail rather than hindering operators such as Qube and Pacific National with barriers other states and territories, or their rail operators, deem unnecessary.
• David Hodgett is Opposition spokesman for public transport and ports
This article first appeared on www.weeklytimesnow.com.au
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