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AS commuters struggle through the ‘sardine express’ state of Geelong’s train services, a war of words has broken out between politicians over a long-awaited rail duplication project.
On Tuesday Victorian Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allen slammed Corangamite federal Liberal MP Sarah Henderson for criticising the state’s sluggish movement on the key project.
The Federal Government had committed $150 million for rail duplication between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds train stations, with Ms Henderson calling on Victoria to match the funding.
But, Ms Allen then accused Ms Henderson of spruiking an arbitrary price tag for the project.
“Sarah Henderson is wrong — she’s wrong on anticipated costs, she’s wrong on the likely funding split,” Ms Allan said. “It seems that she’s so hopelessly out of the loop that she can’t secure so much as a briefing from Ministers in her own government.”
Ms Allan said she had “productive discussion” with the Federal Government on the project, and signalled the State Government would make further announcements after Infrastructure Australia provided feedback on the project’s business case — provided to them earlier this month.
Ms Allan did not provide the Advertiser with a copy of the business case when asked.
Ms Henderson returned fire last night.
“This is an embarrassing response from Jacinta Allan who has badly failed Geelong train commuters,” the Corangamite MP said.
“Jacinta Allan is now trying to mislead the people of Geelong.
“Our government has not received the business plan or any costings for this project.
“Her office admitted late today she only posted the business plan to Minister McCormack in the past day which was done to keep him in the dark for as long as possible.
“Jacinta Allan did not even have the courtesy to send a digital copy.”
The major rail upgrade would pave the way for V/Line to run extra services between Melbourne and Geelong and add platforms to Marshall, South Geelong and Waurn Ponds stations.
Ms Henderson has signalled her hopes that the rail duplication project be included in Geelong’s City Deal — an agreement between all levels of government to work together on delivering a raft of major projects for the region.
Almost 100 services were added to the Geelong corridor last year, and 287 have been added since 2014.
This article first appeared on www.geelongadvertiser.com.au
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