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This letter is my response to Herald Sun Journalist Matthew Johnston's story titled 'Fast Track to Our Growth' and as you would suspect with the low standard of journalism at Murdoch's Herald Sun, Matthew Johnston's story is full of holes and inaccurate assumptions.
Your article on pressuring the Federal Government to take control of the Fast Train Project to allow the state government to focus on the Metro and Suburban Loop had some merit.
However, you under estimated the cost of the Suburban Loop at $ 50 billion. The Rail Revival Alliance Victoria (RRAV)did its own calculations of the Suburban Loop and produced a figure of $ 120 billion and after the RRAV released these figures and put pressure on the state government to be more up front with their costings of the Suburban Loop. The government amended their costings to say that $50 Billion will only build half of the Suburban Loop.
It was through the vigilance of the RRRAV that the sub- standard work on the Murray Basin Rail Project (MBRP) was exposed and the lack of Project Management, political and Ministerial oversight of the project was also exposed. The RRAV wrote to Victorian Auditor General requesting an audit and investigation into the MBRP, which has been authorised and has been under way now since June.
The MBRP debacle, fiasco, negligence and culpability has seriously delayed the Fast Track to Our Growth in the Mildura Region and it the impact of the debacle and fiasco impacts the entire rail line from Mildura to Geelong and Melbourne for freight transport by rail for export.
I would strongly suggest that you enlarge the scope of your investigative journalism, opinion and comment to look beyond Melbourne as the deteriated state of the regional rail network impacts the Melbourne network and the states exports as well as the transportation of regional commuters and the push to move more of them population form Melbourne to Regional Victoria.
These towns and cities have been advocating and lobbying to have passenger rail services reinstated.
Mildura Population 70,000
Horsham Population 20,000
Hamilton Population 10,000
Leongatha Population 5,000
The Minister for Infrastructure has deliberately avoided meeting with the councils of these regions to discuss their request for passenger rail services.
Instead the Minister for Infrastructure has decided to build at the cost of $10 million three railway stations in their electorate on at Goornong Population 300 and 20 minutes drive to the nearest station at Epsom, Huntly Population 2,000 and 10 minute drive to Epsom station and Raywood Population 200 and 20 minute drive to the nearest station at Eaglehawk.
Yet, the Minister for Infrastructure is not prepared to support the reintroduction of passenger rail services to Mildura, Horsham, Hamilton and Leongatha. There appears to a great level of inequality and practicality in the decisions of the Minister for Infrastructure.
The RRAV is has been lobbying and advocating since 2013 for the Regional Centres of Bendigo, Castlemaine, Maryborough, Ballarat, Geelong and Melbourne to be linked by passenger rail services for economic, cultural, social, education, business, medical and tourism instead of having to travel to Footscray to change trains to head to these regional centres.
The rail line already exists and the Castlemaine to Maryborough line would have to be taken out of being moth balled to make the link.
The total cost of the Regional Rail Link would cost $1 billion , which is far more cost effective than the construction of the $120 billion for the Suburban Loop. I have attached a copy of the RRAV Rail Revival Study.
It is high time that the Melbourne based media needs to take a broader and panoramic view of the rest of the state in terms of rail transport and its link to the economic prosperity of the state and efficiency of moving freight and regional commuters as it is not in a healthy state as well as the state government's obsession with Melbourne at the expense of Regional Victoria.
There is more to Victoria than Melbourne.
Public Relations Manager
Rail Revival Alliance Victoria