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Anyone who has stepped in to Shepparton Railway Station recently knows that it has seen better days.
Although it is a vital link for our community to nearby towns and to Melbourne, it has not been kept up to date, and like the trains that stop there, it is a relic of the past.
Complaining about train services in Shepparton is nothing new, but this week one of the experts of rail in Australia came to town and gave us an expert opinion on exactly what we lacked.
John Hearsch had 50 years experience in trains and in the ’80s was the general manager of the state body that eventually became V/Line.
When he arrived at Shepparton on Thursday, to address the Committee for Greater Shepparton, he arrived on one of the trains that was purchased back in the ’80s and had not been updated.
Mr Hearsch argued that unlike other Victorian regional cities like Ballarat, Geelong and Bendigo, Shepparton was ‘‘today’s poor rail relation’’ that had been left behind.
And he is right. While those cities have newer trains and more frequent services, Shepparton is left with a handful of services a day on ageing trains that go slower and are less reliable.
What this does to a city is clear.
Less people without a car have reliable methods of travelling around Victoria, and day-trippers and tourists who want to catch a train to visit a regional city are less likely to stop in Shepparton.
Our politicians have been pushing hard for a big reinvestment in our rail services, with both Wendy Lovell and Suzanna Sheed advocating for better services in recent months.
Only the state government has the power to make the investment to get our rail network up to scratch, and with the current wind- fall of $9.7billion from the sale of the Port of Melbourne, it has the funds to make big investments.
Our community should be pushing very hard in the next few years to spend a small chunk of that $9.7billion on giving Shepparton the rail service it deserves.
This article first appeared on www.sheppnews.com.au
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