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The future of the Overland train between Adelaide and Melbourne is on shaky ground with the South Australian Government axing any future funding for the service.
Great Southern Rail managing director Steve Kernaghan said losing the Government's $330,000 subsidy meant it was unlikely the 130-year-old Overland service would operate past December 31.
"If any portion of that funding doesn't come through it's just not commercially viable to run it," Mr Kernaghan said.
"It's not a small amount of money, but we think it's a reasonable amount of money, but we understand these are decisions that need to be made by the South Australian and Victorian governments at both their ends."
Great Southern Rail has relied on a funding agreement between the South Australian and Victorian governments to fund the service for the past 20 years.
The Victorian Government recommitted in August to fund its share of about $1 million per year for a further 15 months.
A Victorian Government spokeswoman said it would work with "South Australia and Great Southern Rail on future service models".
The Overland runs twice a week between Adelaide and Melbourne, carrying about 17,000 passengers per year.
It also stops in Murray Bridge, Bordertown, Nhill, Dimboola, Horsham, Stawell, Ararat and Geelong.
Trips take 10.5 hours compared with 1.5 hours flying.
SA Transport Minister Stephan Knoll said the money was needed elsewhere.
"We've seen fewer and fewer people use it and we need to make sure we're doing what we can to put the budget back in the black," Mr Knoll said.
"We need to make the tough decisions in order to make sure we've got money to provide world-class health and education services."
The State Government announced on Sunday that it would be loaning the Stadium Management Authority $42 million to build a hotel at the Adelaide Oval.
"The difference between those two things is here we're talking about having to provide ongoing subsidy to a service, whereas in Adelaide Oval by making this investment we actually get a return to taxpayers while also being able to bring something new to Adelaide," Mr Knoll said.
Hit to tourism and regional usersOpposition transport spokesman Tom Koutsantonis said passengers who relied on the Adelaide-to-Melbourne train service could be forced onto the road because of the cut.
Tourism would also be hit, he said.
"This is a service that services regional South Australia, promotes tourism, incorporates trade — quite frankly I think this is a very poor decision by the Government, on top of a whole series of decisions that have hampered regional South Australia," he said.
He accused Mr Knoll of abandoning country constituents who use the service.
Mr Knoll said only about 300 people caught the train at Bordertown and Murray Bridge.
"It's quite clearly a service that regional South Australia is not seeking to use," Mr Knoll said.
Melbourne man Frank Strik took the Overland this week.
"I took the westbound train on Tuesday as there has been talk for some time that the service may not continue beyond the end of the year," Mr Strik said.
"I'm actually a railwayman in Melbourne and didn't want to miss out on riding the service the whole way.
"The trip, though long, was most enjoyable."
Great Southern Rail announced last week it would be starting a three-day Great Southern tourist train service connecting Adelaide and Brisbane via the Victorian and NSW coasts and Canberra.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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