Local Federal MPs have called on the Victorian Minister for Transport Jacinta Allan to work in cooperation with the Federal Government to address the long-term sustainability issues with the Melbourne to Wodonga and Shepparton rail lines.
At a meeting in Spring Street, Independent Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan AO, and Member for Murray, Dr Sharman Stone, stressed the need to Ms Allan for a partnership approach between the Federal and State governments to solve the ongoing issues with the track, and necessary replacement of V/Line rolling stock.
The meeting followed a series of community workshops organised by Public Transport Victoria. More than 370 people participated in the workshops and 122 surveys were submitted online. Information collected from the community will be included in the Regional Network Development Plan. A draft Regional Network Development Plan report is due in the near future.
Ms McGowan and Dr Stone asked that the draft Plan include a business case to be presented to the Federal Government, supporting a joint approach to address these long-term issues.
The Federal MPs raised with their Victorian colleague the current problems with V Line, including the need for improved communication with passengers and the regular cleaning of carriages. The essential role public transport plays in regional and rural Victoria, particularly for young people needing to access employment, was also raised.
“It was a productive meeting and I welcomed the opportunity to work across party lines and in a bipartisan way with my state and federal colleagues on improving this essential service,” Ms McGowan said.
“I am encouraged by the Victorian Government’s positive attitude. This is the first time a State Government has given serious consideration to a public transport plan for all of regional Victoria. Minister Allan acknowledged that in previous times, focus had gone to the regional centres of Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong and this plan would now be for all of regional Victoria.”
Ms McGowan invited the Minister to launch the draft Regional Network Development Plan report in Indi.
Following representation from many smaller rural communities, Ms McGowan also stressed the importance of linking these communities with major centres. She encouraged the Victorian Government to consider a community transport small grants program to address local community transport needs.
Federal MPs urge cooperative approach to solve rail issues on northern and central line