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A professor from the University of Sydney has labeled Opposition Leader Matthew Guy’s proposed regional rail upgrades ‘very realistic’.
Rico Merkert, Professor and Chair in Transport and Supply Chain Management at the University of Sydney thinks the Mr Guy’s proposal is achievable, given the project’s time-frame and budget.
“I think it should be feasible,” he said.
“$15 – $19 billion dollars would be a substantial investment,
“With a very-fast rail system travelling about 200 kilemetres per hour, there will certainly be a need for infrastructure to be improved on the current regional train tracks, however it is very possible.”
Mr Guy’s proposal doesn’t include a dedicated express train line from Ballarat to the Melbourne CBD, rather passing loops for the very-fast train to avoid commuter trains.
“As long as their are enough of these passing loops, I think they would actually be better and cheaper than a dedicated express line.”
If the opposition wins the election, this would be their biggest commitment to decentralisation within Victoria.
While not as fast as the high-speed rails in parts of Europe and Asia, the 200 kilometre per hour train would be a game changer within the state, opening up possibilities for those working in regional Victoria while living in Melbourne, and vice-versa.
“If the proposal was for trains like in Europe and Asia that travel at 250-300 kilometres per hour, I may question the proposal, but as it stands currently, I believe it may work.”
Pre-election promises ‘can’t be trusted’ says Jacinta Allan.
Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan has hit out at Matthew Guy’s proposed regional rail improvement, labeling it as nothing more than an empty pre-election promise.
“The Liberal Party cannot be trusted going into an election,” she said.
“The last time Matthew Guy was in office he slashed $120 million dollars to V/Line,
“You simply cannot trust a single thing this party says in the pre-election process,
“The only thing that they deliver to regional Victoria is massive uncertainty,
“The only time Matthew Guy ever turns up in regional Victoria is to talk about a pre-election promise that he will never deliver.”
Mr Guy’s announcement comes after the Victorian Government announced $518 million dollars towards the Ballarat Line Upgrade, as part of the $1.75 billion dollar Regional Rail Revival program.
This program includes stabling facilities in Maddingley and Ararat, passing loops at Ballan and Millbrook, and track duplication between Deer Park West and Melton, and at Wendouree.
“We deliver when it comes to regional Victoria,
“The Regional Rail Revival shows people that we do not make empty promises.
“We’re looking to make Western Victoria part of the Sunshine route, and connect it to the Airport Link to make commuting easier.
Mr Guy remains steadfast, believing his proposed upgrades to be very achievable, while pointing the finger at the current government for focusing too much on Melbourne.
“For too long this government’s focus has been Melbourne, Melbourne, Melbourne,” he said.
“It is time to focus on the rest of the state.
“This is a fantastic announcement for Ballarat and Western Victoria.
“Currently the rail service is unacceptable. It is time to bring Ballarat to the first class service that it should be.”
The upgrade works would span a decade, with Mr Guy promising it would provide over 10,000 jobs.
This article first appeared on www.thecourier.com.au
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