07 Mar 2018 Wangaratta Chronicle, Wangaratta VIC (General News) by Shane Douthie Ministers rail rally call for $235 million to boost our track VICTORIAN Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan has sent out a call to arms to local North East rail key stakeholders to join her and the State Government lobbying for $235 million to bring the line up to class 2 standard. Thats an increase of $135 million on the current $100 million already earmarked for the repair. Ms Allan was joined by Jaclyn Symes (MLC, Northern Victoria) at a briefing on the current status of the highly criticised line in Benalla on Monday morning, with representatives from Wangaratta and other local councils, rail lobby groups, Cathy McGowan (MHR, Indi) and Coalition MPs Tim McCurdy (MLA, Ovens Valley), Steph Ryan (MLA, Euroa) and a representative from Bill Tilleys (MLA, Benambra) office. Ms Allan revealed the State Government had already put in a proposal with the new Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack to upgrade the track to class 2 standard and more than double the funding allocated. The proposal was based on information from analysis last year by a Commonwealth and Victorian Government steering committee, including Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), Public Transport Victoria and V/Line. The recent chaos coming out of Canberra has meant we are yet to receive funding to deliver much needed upgrades to every regional rail line throughout the state, Ms Allan said. We understand the Turnbull Government has no major concerns its time they signed the deal and delivered the money, so we can give passengers the train services they deserve. Ms Allan said her government had reached agreement with former Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester prior to his dismissal from the role in December last year to make way for Barnaby Joyce, and had received a positive hearing from Mr Joyce when the matter was raised again three weeks ago. Continued page 4 From page 1 Mr Joyce was replaced by current minister Michael McCormack last week and Ms Allan said she would be writing again to the new minister to have funds released from the $1.57 billion Regional Rail Revival Package. At the briefing, Ms Allan called upon the Turnbull Government to get on with the job of releasing Victorias Regional Rail Revival funding so work can begin on these vital projects. Ms Symes told the Wangaratta Chronicle after the briefing the Melbourne-Albury section of the Melbourne-Sydney rail corridor must be upgraded to at least a Victorian Class 2 standard for passenger services to cope with the proposed new V/Locity trains. We have already committed to buying the trains when the track is fixed, Ms Symes said. The State Government provided $311.1 million funding for 39 new V/Locity carriages in the 2017/18 budget, adding to the 48 already funded, with all of them to be built in Victoria. She described the Coalitions plan to seek funding to purchase the new trains (part of the $633 million announcement on Sunday) before the track was up to class 2 standard as a ridiculous notion. It would mean either running them at 80kmh which would add an hour to the trip or sidelining them until the track is upgraded, Ms Symes said. Ms Allan described the Coalitions $633 million announcement as copycat and playing catch-up. The briefing was told that the North East line was one of the few rail lines in the states regional passenger network that wasnt at class 2 and the upgrade would drive job creation, stimulate local business and provide new opportunities for the region.Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.