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Former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer has called for a daily commuter rail service between Griffith and Albury – saying it would boost Riverina tourism while helping students and pensioners.
His comments come after debate on a proposed daily train service between Wagga and Albury.
“It would be better for the train to originate in Griffith and take in Leeton, Narrandera and Junee on its way to Wagga and Albury,” Mr Fischer, a long-time train aficionado, said.
Mr Fischer suggested the train could include high quality food boxes showcasing the MIA’s fresh produce, and be marketed as the “Griffith Gourmet Express” as a means of attracting tourists.
“A service departing Griffith at 7am and returning from Albury at 4pm would be ideal for students, and those travelling for medial appointments. It would benefit everyone, we’ve got the stations and rail lines there, it wouldn’t take a lot for this to go ahead, ” he said.
The existing weekly service between Griffith and Sydney could be scrapped, as this new daily service would allow commuters to link up with express services to major cities when in Wagga, Mr Fischer said.
“Griffith’s mayor needs to think laterally” and get out there and fight for such ideas, he said.
Vanessa Keenan, the Wagga councillor behind the idea of a Wagga to Albury service, said “it’s the same principles and merits as what I’m proposing, our roads are really overburden.”
She said that her focus was on a Wagga service rather than other towns.
Paul Pierotti, Griffith Business Chamber president, said, “a train from Griffith to Albury would be lovely but does not seem commercially viable”.
Mr Fischer though thinks the service could be more viable than other routes if it were marketed well.
“They could serve smashed avocado for breakfast,” he joked.
He said the service, which could also be called “Riverina Regional Express”, would meet the needs of regional towns to better connect with each other.
Peter Knox, president of Combine Pensioners Support Group, has been lobbying for better rail commuter services from Griffith.
“It’s difficult for seniors to take buses to big cities, it takes forever to get to Sydney.”
He says the main priority should be a second weekly train service to Sydney, rather than a daily train to Albury.
This article first appeared on www.areanews.com.au
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