Public Transport Victoria forum hears call for more Maryborough train services
State Government Commits to Developing Rail Infrastructure for Victoria
Horsham residents to be quizzed about future use of dormant rail corridor land
No choppers here: Malcolm Turnbull takes the train to Geelong
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy backs Melbourne Airport rail link
Jail time for train threats to Vline Staff
Premier Daniel Andrews hears efforts to address Central Goldfields disadvantage, push for more Maryborough trains
The Inland Rail Link Melbourne to Brisbane a Similar Case as the RAA's Bendigo - Geelong Rail Link
North-West Rail Alliance urges more council support amid push for return of Mildura passenger rail
Grampians Rail Trail: Shire calls for community to step up and manage facility
V/Line trains should return to Horsham and Hamilton within 10 years to help address "sub-standard" public transport services in the state's far west, according to an expert report on country rail.
The report said public transport services west of Ararat were little improved on 30 years ago, offered limited access to regional centres and provided inadequate connectivity.
The report also calls for extra passenger rail services between Melbourne and Ararat, substantial safety upgrades and better connecting of coach services to smaller towns.
The "Grampians and Barwon South West Region" passenger rail feasibility study was commissioned by eight local councils and prepared by transport consultants.
Locals mark the restoration of train services between Ararat and Ballarat in 2004. Photo: Wayne Taylor
It calls for a $369 million investment in rail track upgrades, new trains and signalling, and a $6.1 million increase in annual operating spending.
The proposed project would vastly improve rail services, provide jobs, tackle isolation in small rural communities and lift tourism to attractions like the Grampians, it said.
The report applauded major state government investments in the state's west over the past 15 years such as the Regional Fast Rail project – which has been a boon for Ballarat – the Regional Rail Link project and the restoration of passenger services from Ballarat to Ararat in 2004, but it said much more needed to be done beyond Ararat.
The lack of public transport west of Ararat was particularly challenging for the elderly, those with mobility problems and young people in training or study, it warned.
Some older residents preferred to travel by "through train" to places like Ballarat or Melbourne for medical appointments, rather than using coaches or having to change trains during the journey.
"In the absence of such services we were told that some older residents preferred to remain untreated, while others relied on friends, family or volunteers. In some towns, such volunteer services are extremely stretched," the report said.
Horsham mayor Pam Clarke said it was "vital" her municipality got better rail services. While a train running from Adelaide to Melbourne stopped at Horsham a couple of times a week, it was "totally inadequate" and little used by locals.
"We need an adequate passenger rail service that goes at appropriate times that gets people to and from the city, whether it's Ballarat or Melbourne, safer and faster than road," she said.
"We service a population of 50,000 people in our region, Horsham is a regional centre for the Wimmera ... and it's amazing that we don't have passenger rail," she said.
Bill Russell, one of the report's authors, said there was "tremendous social need" in the wide region beyond Ararat for much better public transport.
"There's 22 trains from Ballarat to Melbourne every weekday, and 20 from Bendigo. But if you go beyond that to Ararat, it goes down to three trains a day, and if you go beyond Ararat to Horsham it's no trains a day," Dr Russell said.
"The investments in regional rail over the last 20 years have been fabulous, but so far they haven't penetrated into the more distant regional cities. And you could say that because of the tyranny of distance, in some respects it's the more distant ones that really need the speeding up and the improvement of their services," he said.
The study was commissioned by the Ararat, Glenelg, Hindmarsh, Horsham, Northern Grampians, Southern Grampians, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack councils.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
About this website
Railpage version 3.10.0.0037
All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner. The comments are property of their posters, all the rest is © 2003-2021 Interactive Omnimedia Pty Ltd.
You can syndicate our news using one of the RSS feeds.