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The Victorian opposition has flagged plans for a second regional rail link, to help speed up trains from the state's south-east.
Nationals Leader Peter Walsh today told a meeting of party faithful in Shepparton that the Coalition would look to unclog the busy Dandenong rail corridor, which is shared by both suburban Metro trains, and regional V/Line services.
"We'll invest in the Gippsland rail service, so that Gippsland has a faster service, a more reliable service, and you won't be stuck behind Metro trains from Pakenham," he said.
"We've had the regional rail link for Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong, we need to find the equivalent of that for the Gippsland line."
Victorian Nationals leader Peter Walsh. (AAP)The $3.65 billion Regional Rail Link was opened in 2015, giving V/Line services dedicated tracks between Southern Cross Station and Sunshine, with new tracks taking trains to Geelong via Wyndham Vale and Tarneit.
But Mr Walsh conceded the push to build dedicated tracks for Gippsland trains had been made harder by the construction of Skyrail, which has taken up much of the existing rail reserve.
"Skyrail has effectively taken away the future-proofing of that project, and we'll do the work to find an alternate way that Gippsland can actually get a dedicated line into Melbourne somehow," he said.
Statistics from Public Transport Victoria show that in the past 12 months, 33.4 percent of Bairnsdale trains ran late, while 22.2 percent of services from Traralgon failed to arrive on schedule.
The Opposition announcement was welcomed by Public Transport Users Association spokesman Daniel Bowen, who said Gippsland passengers had long complained about delays caused by track congestion.
"It does make sense to look at adding extra tracks or a different route, and it could also provide express paths for outer suburban trains, as well as freight," he said.
But he warned the project was likely to cost a significant amount of money.
"Politicians on both sides have a habit of talking big, and then only funding planning studies," he said.
"They're going to need to make sure they fund any studies with action and funding for construction."
This article first appeared on www.9news.com.au
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