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NORTHWEST Rail Alliance read with interest, and a degree of face-palming and disbelief, a media release from Premier Andrews entitled Untangling Freight And Passenger Rail In Ballarat.
While this is the smallest of steps forward in the right direction (24km, in fact) we do not feel that it is visionary, and in fact, certainly does not deliver for all Victorians.
In Mildura, we read this as the “Public Transport State Border at Maryborough may be moved by 24km sideways towards Mildura sometime in distant future”.
Sarcasm aside, to extend country passenger rail service by 24km – and provide such scant details – is a weak position and is poor policy.
The only reason we believe this has been indicated is because it is dual gauge.
Our position remains that the corridor should be standard gauge from Ballarat towards Ararat and Mildura creating a western standard gauge network, thus also inviting passenger rail to Horsham and Hamilton.
We do, however, commend the commitment of the Andrews Government to our primary producers – including the capacity improvements of the Ballarat end of the corridor – and finally achieving 80km/h on the line between Maryborough and Yelta. This can only be good.
We call upon Labor again to be visionary, and provide a commitment or timeline to work towards passenger rail to Mildura and Donald, and to match the Coalition opposition’s pledge.
North West Rail Alliance president
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