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Four times a week Margaret Millington and a group of campaigners meet at the Nhill railway station to greet the 1.17pm Overland train from Adelaide.
"We hold up our signs, wave our Australian flags and chant 'save the Overland' for the passengers and staff aboard," Mrs Millington said.
"The Overland is iconic and a necessity for this town."
If funding is not extended beyond March 31 the train, which links towns on a route between Adelaide and Melbourne, will cease to operate.
The Overland has connected the Victorian and South Australian capitals since 1887 and stops at eight regional stations along an 828km journey - Murray Bridge, Bordertown, Nhill, Dimboola, Horsham, Stawell, Ararat and Geelong.
At the end of 2018, the Victorian government committed $3.78 million to fully fund the service for another year, after the South Australian Government pulled out of the joint funding arrangement between the two governments.
In December 2019, the Victorian government provided more funding to allow the Overland to keep running until March 31.
ALL ABOARD: Campaigners greet the Overland at Nhill station. Picture: MARGARET MILLINGTON
Mrs Millington said she is campaigning for the people who have disabilities and limited mobility that can not use the bus services.
"The train provides a safe and comfortable means of travel for the elderly, the disabled, those travelling with little children and tourists."
Whilst buses are available, she said many disabled and elderly people are unable to board them.
"The buses have limited recliner options and you can't walk around and get food or a drink," Mrs Millington said.
"The bus timetables are not only inadequate, but many also require a change of service part way through their journey."
Many locals in Nhill rely on the Overland to get to their medical appointments in Melbourne.
Mrs Millington said a man in Nhill who has had a double lung transplant uses the train to get to and from his medical appointments.
"There is also a lady in Horsham who has polio - she can't travel on buses and will have no way of getting out of Horsham if the train stops," Mrs Millington said.
"If the train goes, they are once again isolated."
HEALTH: Many Nhill locals rely on the train to attend medical appointments. Picture: MARGARET MILLINGTON
Nhill resident Graeme Ruse has a physical disability that limits his mobility including climbing stairs, getting in and out of seats and leg space.
He has also had throat cancer and travels to Melbourne on a regular basis for his appointments at the Alfred Hospital.
Wife Melanie Ruse has been campaigning on his behalf and said her husband depends on the Overland service to "embark and disembark with ease, not having to change modes of transport midway".
"He breathes through a hole in the base of his neck called a stoma . . . which can be affected by the environment around him such as air conditioning," Mrs Ruse said.
She said the long journey takes its toll both physically and mentally on her husband.
"I feel that residents in regional areas are penalised for where they live - there would be an uproar if this was to happen in metropolitan Melbourne," Mrs Ruse.
"How can we encourage people to live in country towns when infrastructure like public transport is totally inadequate?"
Mr Ruse said he has sent a letter to the government and received a "generic response".
"I'm stuffed without the Overland," he said.
Mrs Millington said that "to their credit", the Andrew's government funded all last year and extended the funding to the end ofMarch this year.
"I had hoped in fairness the South Australian government would come on board and share the coatings of it," she said.
A spokesman from Andrew's government said Tuesday: "Given the South Australian Government's refusal to fund their portion of the service, Victoria is considering its future options."
The train also keeps more cars and trucks off the road which Mrs Millington said is a positive step towards climate change.
"It's imperative to also keep the train going for our environment."
She said she was getting "anxious" because with the end date approaching the government has not recently "shed any light".
"However, I am optimistic that through all of our campaigning the governments will see what the train means to us," Mrs Millington said.
"I spoke to the train manager recently and they are thankful that we keep doing what we do everyday when the train comes through.
"It will be a very sorry day if they destroy our mode of travel."
This article first appeared on www.mailtimes.com.au
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