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VICTORIA’S leg of the inland rail line remains plagued with problems, despite more than $2 billion in taxpayer funds forked out over 14 years to bring it up to scratch.
It’s prompted independent MP Cathy McGowan to call for an audit of how cash for the Melbourne-Albury line has been spent, amid fears services will deteriorate further when Melbourne-Brisbane inland rail is operating.
.“There’s going to be a huge increase in traffic — what is that going to do to the passenger services, when we already understand they make their money out of freight, not passengers?” Ms McGowan said.
“Who’s going to get preference on that track?”
The Australian Rail Track Corporation-managed line has been plagued with problems largely due to mudholes — potholes forming under the track in wet weather, distorting the line — which regularly cause speed restrictions.
Neither the ARTC nor Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack’s office could confirm the exact amount spent on the line to date.
However, an analysis by The Weekly Times indicates at least $2.05 billion has been spent trying to fix the line since the ARTC took over its management in 2004.
This includes funding for targeted works, such as $872 million for the Melbourne-Sydney line in 2004, and $500 million for the North East line’s revitalisation including converting the line from broad to standard gauge.
It also includes the $235 million the Federal Government promised last month when Victoria signed up to the inland rail project.
This article first appeared on www.weeklytimesnow.com.au
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