Public Transport | August 29, 2018

Labor abandons passenger rail in western Victoria

The Nationals Member for Lowan, Emma Kealy says Daniel Andrews wilful neglect of passenger rail in western Victoria is putting decentralisation plans backwards by decades. 

“Daniel Andrews’ announcement of a multi-billion-dollar rail tunnel through Melbourne suburbs is a slap in the face for western Victorian commuters,” Ms Kealy said.

“Labor have had four years to bring back passenger rail and improve public transport services in western Victoria, but instead Daniel Andrews has cut services, extended travel times and has now shelved our only passenger rail service, The Overland”, Ms Kealy said. 

The Overland is the only passenger rail service to western Victoria, servicing the region for 130 years. The Overland currently runs twice a week between Adelaide and Melbourne, carrying about 30,000 passengers per year.

“Again, the fate of the Overland rail service is in chaos, causing confusion and disruption with passengers being told that bookings have been haltered from January next year,” Ms Kealy said.

“What hope do we have of growing our region and improving connectivity to support decentralisation under Labor if Daniel Andrews plan is to cut our only existing passenger rail service?

“The Overland is the only rail link for our region to connect with Melbourne and Adelaide and the Andrews Labor Government needs to act quickly to avoid its demise,” she said.

In stark contrast to city-centric Labor, The Nationals have committed to secure the Overland service and will take the first step in returning passenger rail to Horsham and Hamilton by undertaking a $4 million business case, if elected to government in November.

“Our region needs better access to public transport services, not more Labor cuts, and that’s why I’ve committed to taking the first step to return passenger rail to the West by undertaking a business case and expanding coach connections in our region under a Liberal Nationals Government. 

Ms Kealy has also announced that an elected Liberal Nationals government will:

  • Add new bus services between Horsham and Hamilton;
  • Timetable improvements to help more people get where they want to be, when they want to get there;
  • Introduce tourist friendly coach services to Halls Gap and the Grampians, including timetable improvements to provide better connections, more shelters and room for bikes to be carried on the bus to support growing tourist visitation to the Grampians; and
  • Ensure a weekday train service arrives in Ararat before 9am.

“The Nationals will get regional Victoria moving with better train and bus services. Our plans will make sure our communities can get where they want, when they want,” Ms Kealy said.

“Western Victoria needs a better deal on rail and bus transport and that’s exactly what I will deliver if we win the next State election in November,” she said.

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