Public Transport | September 04, 2018
Adjournment - Western Victoria public transport
Victorian Parliament - 4 September 2018 - Ms KEALY - My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Public Transport. I ask that the minister match The Nationals commitment to undertake a business case and costings to return passenger rail to Horsham and Hamilton, to extend funding for the Overland service so that the only passenger rail service to western Victoria can continue, to fund a coach service between Hamilton and Horsham, and to improve coach services to Halls Gap and the wider Grampians to support the important tourism industry in our part of the state.
The Overland service is an important rail service that connects Adelaide and Melbourne, and it stops off throughout western Victoria through the Wimmera, Horsham and Ararat and extending through the Ripon electorate as well. For our part of the state it is the only passenger rail service that we have, so it is bitterly disappointing to hear that Labor has actually shelved funding for this important rail service from January of next year. We have heard stories of where passengers are trying to book a ticket after January but they are unable to do so. We did have a bit of a fight at the start of this parliamentary term where this was again another issue where the funding looked like it was going to dry up and not be committed to in the future. I would hate to think that we lost our only passenger rail service to the west simply because we did not have that funding commitment from the Labor government.
We also have other important things. We want to make sure that we can extend our rail services in western Victoria rather than see them grind to a halt and reduce, which is what we are seeing at the moment under the Andrews Labor government. We have actually undertaken to do a business case and costings to look at returning passenger rail to Horsham and Hamilton —
Ms Thomas interjected.
Ms KEALY — I am getting interjections here from the member for Macedon, who understands that V/Line is actually extending. Maybe she needs to have a look in western Victoria and perhaps get back out into the country, because we do not have a rail service. We actually have an area of the track where now concrete sleepers have been put down which will force us to have a standardised line ongoing and have this dual‑gauge issue of standard gauge going to broad gauge from Ararat to Ballarat, which prevents us going forward. Rather than actually moving ahead on bringing back passenger rail to the region, we are seeing under Labor that we are getting stuck under the same dual‑gauge issue that we have got, and we need to undo it.
We need to understand how much this will cost and how we will deliver it to make sure we can deliver the best possible times to connect our people to Ballarat and Melbourne. Also, how can we bring people out of the city? How can we get them to come back to work in our region, to play footy on the weekends, to enjoy those community connections — for education, for networking with their friends and family — and to go to medical appointments? That is very, very important. So I ask the minister to match our Nationals funding commitment to improve passenger rail and public transport services to the west.
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