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THE region’s state and federal Liberals have banded together to petition for all levels of government and both sides of politics to urgently deal with the Geelong and Warrnambool passenger rail service.
Federal MPs Sarah Henderson (Corangamite) and Dan Tehan (Wannon), and state MPs Andrew Katos (South Barwon), Simon Ramsay (Western Victoria), Roma Britnell (South-West Coast) and Richard Riordan (Polwarth) have launched an online petition to support their campaign.
They are calling for more Commonwealth funding to fix the line and overcrowding issues, while also pushing the State Government to act on rail duplication between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds stations.
Mr Katos said the current rail system was grossly inadequate.
“We need to improve our rail service, and we need to get serious about the rail connection to Melbourne,” Mr Katos said.
“People are sick to death of being squashed on to trains and they want to see improvement.”
Mr Ramsay pleaded for greater co-operation between the Turnbull and Andrews governments.
“Failure between the Victorian and Commonwealth governments to sit down and talk is resulting in wasted opportunities for rail investment in the Geelong region,” Mr Ramsay said.
“The agendas are big, but the talk is not — let’s hope the political will, at all levels, is still alive.”
Mr Ramsay said the Federal Government was “making noise” about regional rail investment, but not working with the State Government to make that a reality.
“Victoria, conversely, wants more of its share of the GST pie but won’t talk to the Commonwealth about projects for which this money could be used,” he said.
Ms Henderson said dedicated Commonwealth funding would help the state plan and fund vital rail upgrades, and she urged locals to sign the petition.
“Community support for this investment is vital,” Ms Henderson said.
“Whether you live in Geelong, Birregurra, Winchelsea, Colac, Camperdown or Warrnambool, your voice matters.”
State Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said the State Government was adding more services, new carriages and delivering improvements.
“This petition isn’t worth the paper it’s written on,” Ms Allan said.
“The former Liberal Government were an unmitigated disaster for Geelong commuters — slashing funding for V/Line and leaving passengers stranded on crowded trains.
“And the Turnbull Government haven’t yet provided a cent to build better public transport for Geelong or anywhere else in Victoria.”
This article first appeared on www.geelongadvertiser.com.au
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