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The NorthWest Rail Alliance notes that the recent discussion paper regarding the update of the Victorian 30-year infrastructure plan has – so far – again omitted Mildura passenger rail from the list of local priorities.
The facts are clear. Governments follow advice when it suits them. Take Melbourne Airport Rail; Infrastructure Victoria suggested that it would be needed many years in the future. This was brought forward after the government intervened.
Successive state governments – regardless of which party – have a long history of remaining biased and favours projects in Melbourne, and likes to tout Geelong as “country”. Only a few years ago, regional and country areas received just 4 per cent, on average, of budget allocation in state budgets. It is not surprising that Infrastructure Victoria continues to echo this rural-metro divide and when it does talk about “rural areas” Bendigo is as far away as it can reach when we discuss serious infrastructure investment.
Government has recently sort to remedy this. It has trumpeted
major infrastructure upgrades to passenger rail to Geelong (pretty much a satellite suburb of Melbourne) and has sought to spend millions of needed upgrades on the Ballarat line upgrade (130km from Melbourne). Yes, Ballarat is a regional centre, but sadly, old habits die hard. Anything much further out, and transport infrastructure barely gets a mention. Maryborough still has just one service per day each way on the weekends.
We’re under no illusions here. We have a woefully incomplete Murray Basin Rail Project, that has to be completed first. Our transport needs are ignored – over and over.
We have an uphill task to return our passenger train. But that’s not an excuse to say never.
It’s most certainly not a time to go quiet. It’s time to let our state member, who is a long term advocate of the cause of NorthWest Rail Alliance, and all federal candidates know that passenger rail is important and it is a priority.
NorthWest Rail Alliance President
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