News

Rail keeps missing our stop

by
November 30, 2016

It’s becoming like a broken record, but Shepparton has once again missed out when it comes to passenger rail services.

From January next year, Shepparton will receive one extra service each weekday, in the form of an extension of a service to Seymour.

But it’s better than nothing, right?

Well, yes, but it’s inferior when you consider the extensive service improvements to other regional Victorian cities.

Let’s consider what other regional areas are getting.

Geelong is getting 18 new services, while Ballarat, Bendigo and Traralgon commuters will be able to access 10 extra services a week.

The Victorian Government last week spruiked the service improvements that were announced in the state budget in May.

It was part of a $1.3billion investment the government is making in regional public transport.

‘‘We’re introducing 80 new train services each week to get people in regional Victoria home safe and sooner,’’ Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said last week.

The problem with that is, it just depends where you live in regional Victoria as to whether you will be able to experience the benefits, relative to other places.

At the time of the budget, one extra service for Shepparton seemed like a reasonable improvement.

However, when lined up against other regional areas, it looks poor.

But Shepparton people aren’t the only ones who should feel aggrieved.

There were no new services announced for Sale and Bairnsdale, or in the north-east.

Before Shepparton can experience the benefits of increased services, there must be funding made available for infrastructure improvements.

‘‘We need our line upgraded and to bring Shepparton to the same standard as our regional counterparts,’’ Independent Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed said recently.

This, she said, could allow for eight daily return services to Melbourne.

Ms Sheed is campaigning for funds from the sale of the Port of Melbourne — more than $970million from that is to be invested in regional and rural infrastructure projects — to be used for upgrades in our area.

Shepparton continues to miss out when it comes to rail investment.

We still have not yet benefited from the roll out of new VLocity trains that are operating in other areas on the network and we have not yet been able to utilise the Night Network services that have been introduced in many other regional centres.

Other places in regional Victoria have newer trains and more frequent services, while we are left with older and slower trains and less services than our regional counterparts.

It can’t be described any way other than that Shepparton has been neglected for far too long when it comes to investment in rail services and infrastructure, and that’s not right.

It’s about time we got our fair share. It’s our job to make sure this stays on the agenda and that we keep campaigning for change.

■ Cameron Whiteley is news editor at The News.

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