The Victorian Opposition has pledged to bring new-generation, faster, long-haul variants of the V/Locity trains to Shepparton.
If elected in November, the Opposition will give country Victorians ‘‘the rail service they deserve’’ with a $633million investment — to replace the ageing fleet of diesel hauled trains.
Under the plan, an order will be placed in June next year with a new fleet delivered during the first term of government.
‘‘The Liberal Nationals have strategy to decentralise Victoria’s population to ease the squeeze on Melbourne’s growth,’’ Opposition leader Matthew Guy said.
‘‘A modern regional rail service is a central part of our plan.’’
The fleet replacement of 16 new train sets, consisting of 96 new railcars capable of speeds of up to 160km/h, will be built in Victoria.
State Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell said the trains along the Shepparton line were in a deplorable state.
‘‘They are unreliable and uncomfortable with the air conditioning often breaking down on hot days,’’ Ms Lovell said.
‘‘Labor has left Shepparton line passengers behind for far too long. Only the Liberal Nationals will ensure reliable train services.’’
Shepparton, Albury, Swan Hill, Bairnsdale and Warrnambool all still rely on 1980s-era diesel-hauled train that will gradually be phased out of service, under the opposition pledge.
Victorian Nationals leader Peter Walsh said slow and unreliable train services were delaying the development of country communities, such as Shepparton.
‘‘Labor has been in government for 14 of the last 18 years and has treated country Victoria like second-class citizens,’’ Mr Walsh said.
‘‘We will deliver a modern, safe and comfortable fleet of new train for our regional rail network.’’
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said the Liberals and Nationals had no credibility when it came to regional rail.
‘‘They closed regional rail lines and when last in government they didn’t order a single new carriage for two years, ripped $120million out of V/Line and didn’t start any major rail projects anywhere in Victoria,’’ Ms Allan said.
‘‘We’ve restored and increased funding to V/Line, ordered 87 new regional carriages and already begun the design work needed to run V/Locity carriages on long-haul lines.’’