Media Alert – Tuesday, April 11th, 2017
Strathbogie Shire Council has thrown its support behind better passenger and freight rail services which are critical to the growth in our region.
The Hume Corridor Passenger Rail Study, aimed at identifying issues plaguing train lines from the north-east to Melbourne, was presented to Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester recently, is a collaboration between Albury City Council, Benalla Rural City Council, Rural City of Wangaratta and the City of Wodonga (and the Border Rail Action Group).
Representatives from all Councils, as well as Strathbogie Shire Mayor Amanda McClaren and State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan, met with Minister Chester to discuss rail issues between Albury-Wodonga and Melbourne, riding the train to experience the problems first-hand.
The study has highlighted the following issues:
The north-east line has the poorest service in Victoria, due to infrequent services, late trains and slow journeys
Approximately one in five trains arrives more than 11 minutes later than scheduled
In December last year, only 56 per cent of trains arrived within 11 minutes of scheduled time
Among the top five areas for service improvement included the elimination of bus replacement services.
The study recommended both forms of government (State and Federal) prioritised planning and development of passenger rail infrastructure and services between Albury and Melbourne, focus on reducing journey times by having fewer stops and improved infrastructure to enable faster train speeds and modernise rolling stock to ensure greater reliability and consistency of services.
Cr McClaren said she was fully supportive of trains coming through the Shire, both freight and passenger, as it greatly benefited the region.
"The need for better rail services in our Shire came through strongly in our recent Conversation Cafes as part of our Council Plan engagement around key issues," she said.
"Having attended a forum on Inland Freight options with representatives from other Councils and Mangalore Airport recently, we can see there is a need to build new freight rail infrastructure to support our industries in the Goulburn Valley.
"By linking Mangalore and Tocumwal, as part of a bigger link between the ports of Melbourne and Brisbane, this could be a real game-changer for the region that is plagued with significant rail issues."
She said the Strathbogie Shire was "ideally positioned" and would continue to strongly advocate for better regional passenger and freight services, ensuring our region can grow and prosper.
"There is so much potential in the Strathbogie Shire in rail freight and air freight, with Mangalore Airport incredibly supportive of getting on board to fly our region’s produce into the international market.
"This is a great example of economic development in action, which is what Strathbogie Shire prides itself on," she said.