I'm sure Craig Ingram (Gippsland East) and Russell Savage (Mildura)wouldn't agree.
I saw the Melbourne bound Overland as I was heading home on the 19:26 Ballarat last night.(I was going through Middle Footscray) Quite a fair crowd on board, and 2 MotoRail wagons with 9 vehicles attached.
There'll be no cuts to V/Line services before the election...and any thoughts towards that end would, to quote Sir Humphrey Appleby be a very courageous decision.
Mike, as much as I admire your optimism there are two significant headwinds happening here. One is a major increase in unemployment coming through - reportedly the largest increase in the last six months since the 1990's. And that's well before any impact from the closure of the car industry is coming through on the statistics. Increased unemployment affects State revenues with things like stamp duty and payroll tax receipts - it's not easy to replace that lost money.
The second is the fact that the East-West will require a lot more money than projected because despite significant feather-bedding they still can't attract any merchant banks or private investors; Mac Bank, Transurban, the big four banks - they've all given it a resounding 'no'. So the real cost will probably be the full price tag plus contingency money so perhaps anywhere from 8 billion through to 12 or more (depending on what problems they might strike in construction) with very little prospect of full cost recovery even with tolls of $12 or more each way. This is the single most expensive project in Victoria's history and they'll be going through every single department and program to find savings that can be diverted to it so they can make the claim at election time that "we didn't have to borrow money to get it done!". Don't expect DoT and V/Line to be immune because they won't be.
The other point is that you're confusing words with deeds. Peter Crisp and Tim Bull are probably really well intentioned and sincere members of parliament but they have absolutely no power whatsoever in Spring Street and they know it. Peter Crisp only has to keep telling his electorate "I've been trying to convince the Premier that Mildura needs its rail service back but there's simply no money after the wasteful Labor years and we all have to make sacrifices so we can have an industry-building modern road network in Melbourne that will increase jobs in our state etc etc". It's a script that writes itself. Same thing with Tim Bull: "I was devastated at the loss of the Bairnsdale passenger service but the fact is it was unsustainable and we are in the midst of a Labor-induced budgetary crisis... etc etc".
Compare to Hugh Delehunty in the seat of Wimmera who has actually been honest enough to tell his electorate that there isn't a hope in hell of ever getting passenger trains back to Horsham... not now, not ever. At least he's telling the truth. And Peter Ryan is the same - he's been on record many times telling his electorate that they need to forget about ever having a South Gippsland passenger train back. Kudos to those Nationals for at least having the honesty to tell their electorate the truth instead of trying to sheet the blame home to someone else.