The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has welcomed today’s announcement that the broad gauge rail line from Seymour to Albury will be standardised and upgraded under a deal between the Commonwealth and Victorian governments, but criticised the rail “bypass” plan that will see Wodonga’s station moved.
“The standardisation project will allow the provision of passenger services that are faster and more reliable than those recently suspended due to the poor condition of the present track,” said PTUA regional spokesman Paul Westcott. “The double-track standard gauge line to be created promises to make rail freight more competitive along the corridor, and reduce truck traffic.”
Mr Westcott highlighted the importance of high-quality passenger and freight rail services in an era of soaring petrol prices. “Global oil prices are constantly on the rise and we urgently need to reduce greenhouse emissions from transport. Efficient rail services are crucial to cutting transport costs for families and businesses who want to reduce their fuel use and their carbon footprint.”
“We’re awaiting further detail, but we can only assume that the broad gauge branch line from Benalla to Oaklands will also be standardised as part of the process, otherwise it will be left isolated and useless,” warned Mr Westcott.
“And given government policies to further increase rail patronage, it is incongruous and regrettable that the project will result in the closure of the present Wodonga station, with its convenient central location, and its move to a remote out-of-town site.