Minister’s visit heightens confidence for action
By Nadia Surace
HOW long is a piece of string? The time until at least a short-term solution is delivered on local rail transport string.
Its length may not be known but local rail transport improvement lobby group, SheppRAILS assures, it now exists.
The group’s boost in confidence comes after Victorian Minister for Public Transport, Terry Mulder visited Shepparton last week, going out of his way to make the trip via train.
He did so after an appeal from Member for Shepparton, Jeanette Powell who requested he do so to experience local transport issues first hand.
While in town Mr Mulder met with the group and Councillors in a 45 minute discussion over the need for improvements to rail services between Shepparton and Melbourne.
In response Mr Mulder delivered a much welcome acknowledgement of the need for service improvements to the Goulburn Valley and said he would go away to consider short, medium and long-term upgrade possibilities.
SheppartonRAILS Spokesperson, Jason Kelly said Mr Mulder had listened intently to the group’s concerns at the meeting and is confident action will be taken, how soon is unknown.
“We proposed extending some of the rail services between Seymour and Melbourne to continue through to Shepparton and replacing some of the coach services with train services,” Mr Kelly said.
“We think that this may be a viable and cost-effective option for increasing the number of services to Shepparton as a short-term solution.
“Then, we’d have to ask people to vote with their feet and start using the services.
“Some will argue that the services shouldn’t be improved because nobody uses them. The reality is, people aren’t using them because they’re so poor.”
The proposed short-term timetabling would see the addition of six new train services a day during the week going from three to nine, two of which would arrive in Melbourne before 9am.
Bendigo, Ballarat and Traralgon each have four trains arriving in Melbourne before 9am.
“He wouldn’t commit to improving services but said he would go away with the view to improving the services,”
Mr Kelly said.
“It was a very positive meeting, we’re extremely grateful for his making the time for us.”