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Media Release

5/9/2000

Country Rail Reform to Proceed

The Public Transport Users Association is encouraged today with the Bracks government's announcement that 800 million shall be spent on improving rail links to regional Victoria. 550 million of this money shall be taxpayer funded, a more realistic amount than the original 80 million dollars announced as seed funding. This funding will be spent primarily upgrading the track so that trains can run to a maximum speed of 160km. Travel times to the regional centres shall be 45mins to Geelong, 60 mins to Ballarat, 80 minutes to Bendigo and 90 to Traralgon.

PTUA spokesperson Wendy Everingham said :

"Finally country Victorians from Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and Traralgon will have better rail access to their state. Reduced travel times by train will be a major incentive for them to leave their vehicles at home and travel in comfort by train."

She went on to add:

"Reform to the networks speed however is only one part of the equation for successful services in rural Victoria. During the consultative phase, which shall run for the next year it is important to realise that the frequency of the service has a major role to play. Passengers will need to be able to travel at times that suite their needs. This means for example, having services that run later in the evening so you can attend an event in Melbourne or more often in the morning so you can get to work on time."

"An overall strategy needs to be in place. One that takes into account the connectivity of the entire system. This means that buses need to be integrated into the new system as well. Currently in most of the major centres only VLine buses connect to trains. Regional bus networks will need to be coordinated into the process. Ideally as the train comes to the station the buses will be there to take the commuters home. If this happens the possibility for increased patronage will improve substantially."

"Decreased travel times need to be looked at for all travellers in the corridors. If time savings are only for those that live in the major centre an opportunity will be lost. For instance if the faster times only relate to Bendigo passengers because the train runs express to Melbourne, this will not be the optimum outcome. What will happen to commuters in Castlemaine, Kyneton?"

"Finally, with such major reforms announced we are concerned for other regional Victorian's whose rail lines have not been mentioned. Residents in Mildura, Wodonga, Ararat, Bairnsdale are to name but a few. With such a major upgrade of services, it is a shame that these areas of the state seem to have missed out."

"The travel savings announced today, are just the first positive step for better travel for country Victorian's. Taken in conjunction with these further ideas and Victoria will have an inter regional system to be proud of," concluded Wendy Everingham.

Contacts:
PTUA Office 9650 7898

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Last Modified: 12 September 2000