Politicians gathered at Shepparton railway station yesterday, to again shine the spotlight on passenger rail.
Victorian shadow Public Transport Minister David Davis was joined by Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell, new liberal candidate Cheryl Hammer and City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Kim O’Keeffe at a press conference.
The Opposition has pledged $633million investment to bring faster, long-haul variants of V/Locity trains to Shepparton.
‘‘Ms Allan (Pubic Transport Minister Jacinta Allan) hasn’t done what’s necessary,’’ Mr Davis said.
‘‘Labor has been in power for 14 of the last 18 years. Whatever problems there are, are primarily due to Labor governments.’’
If elected in November, the Opposition will give country Victorians ‘‘the rail service they deserve’’, replacing the ageing fleet of diesel trains.
‘‘We’re here today to re-inforce the importance of our rail announcement,’’ Mr Davis said.
‘‘I’m familiar with the issues of V/Line across country Victoria. It is clear we need to take further steps and I’m very focused on what is needed into the future.’’
Cr O’Keeffe was excited it was campaign time as it provided an opportunity to bring Shepparton into the conversation.
‘‘We’ve missed out for so long, it’s gone on way too long,’’ she said.
‘‘We’re a progressive city that is just 20km further away from Melbourne compared with Bendigo.
‘‘I want to see our city thrive and this (train debacle) is holding us back.
‘‘This conversation has to continue, not end, we want results.’’
It was Liberal candidate Cheryl Hammer’s first appearance since the announcement of her candidacy this week.
‘‘I use the train for work and personally, to get down into Melbourne for appointments — they are archaic,’’ she said.
‘‘We’ve got huge development with SAM and the courthouse here, we’re a service centre, and we need to bring people here.’’
Ms Hammer was thrilled to be endorsed as the Liberal candidate and was here to win the seat and return a Matthew Guy-led Government to power.
‘‘We haven’t had a Liberal candidate in the seat for 12 years,’’ she said.
‘‘Tourism will be one of my platforms and we need investment from both government and corporate business.
‘‘I’m going to advocate strongly for small business and what they need because it’s the backbone of our community.’’
Ms Lovell said Ms Hammer had been a strong advocate on the need to improve rail services for some time.
She also thanked Mr Davis for his visit to Shepparton.
‘‘Mr Davis’ preference was to come by train today and of course the train timetable didn’t suit that,’’ she said.
Earlier in the week, Ms 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,’’ she 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.’’