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New trains for the North East line will be built and ready to roll for when the track upgrades are complete, Premier Daniel Andrews has promised.
Initial comments last week were that rolling stock would not be ordered until after the track was complete, but speaking in Wangaratta on Friday, Mr Andrews committed to an earlier timeframe.
“The trains will be ordered in time to be ready when the track is ready, that’s my commitment,” he said.
“Rolling stock will not in any way be an inhibitor or a limiting factor in getting the very best services for passengers right across the North East.”
Money for the trains will not be included in this year’s Victorian budget because Mr Andrews said there was no use building them now.
Australian Rail Track Corporation estimates the track will be ready in three years, while trains are expected to take two years to build.
The Victorian government has long said it will not run new trains on the old track.
“There will be the right number and the right type of new trains for this line and we’ll place the orders at the appropriate time so we get the greatest good for the whole Victorian community and we don’t find ourselves with a bunch of trains that can’t be used, sitting around gathering dust,” Mr Andrews said.
The ARTC is due to start work on the track mid-year after plans are released for public consultation.
Indi MP Cathy McGowan said she wanted that document released quickly.
“That will give the community a chance to have the scope of works and actually be able to interrogate the decision-makers that it is enough money,” she said.
“The relevant people need to convince the people of North East Victoria that there’s enough to have equal service to people of Bendigo and Ballarat.”
No interim solution has been announced to deal with issues in the meantime.
“We can’t have another summer like we’ve just had, so what’s the plan for customer service over the next three years?” Ms McGowan said.
This article first appeared on www.bordermail.com.au
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