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Emma Kealy promises rail return to Horsham

TRAINS: Emma Kealy announcing a plan to return trains to Horsham. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

TRAINS: Emma Kealy announcing a plan to return trains to Horsham. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

A return of domestic passenger rail services to Horsham will happen ‘sooner rather than later’ as part of a Liberal-Nationals promise to revolutionise western Victorian rail services.
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy confirmed that in a best-case scenario people might be stepping off Horsham Railway Station platform for trips to Melbourne via Stawell, Ararat and Ballarat in four years.
“Much will depend on the findings of a business case but the aim is that it will take about four years to return appropriate passenger rail services to Horsham,” she said.
Ms Kealy stressed that she had won a commitment from the Liberal-Nationals that went beyond funding a business case to extend VLine services to Horsham and Hamilton.
“We have a guarantee now for a return of passenger rail services to Horsham from the Liberal-Nationals if we win office in November,” she said.
“It has been a concerted effort to make sure Lowan centres Horsham and Hamilton have been part of the regional rail-revolution campaign.
“In fact it’s been an effort spanning several years that has involved a lot of meetings and a lot of debate. But it’s been well worth the lobbying, effort and commitment.
“It has the potential to open up this part of the state like never before. This isn’t about just having a rail service, but having a service that includes state-of-the-art rail connections into Melbourne.
“The business case will be important to help us work out the logistics of how we can make it the best service possible for the far west of the state.
“It’s a major victory for the Wimmera, southern Mallee and Western District, let alone Lowan and Ripon electorates. This has been top-of-mind for several councils and their communities for so long and now we’re about a month from voters being able to make it happen.”
A key part of the 10-year $19-billion plan, announced by Opposition leader Matthew Guy last week, is to build a ‘European-style’ high-speed rail system between Melbourne and Ballarat with trains capable of travelling at 200 kilometres an hour.
Mr Guy said the project was the cornerstone of his plan to decentralise jobs and population to ‘build a state of cities and not be a city state’ if the Liberal-Nationals won government.
Plans are that Horsham and Hamilton services would connect to the new rail system via Ararat.
Ms Kealy said the rail project was a profound example of what the Coalition intended in addressing a glaring need for Victorian decentralisation.
“Yes, we’ve been talking a lot about this need, and this announcement provides a solid commitment to do something about it as soon as possible,” she said.
Lowan, Ripon and other parts of regional Victoria have a lot to offer.
“The door is open and we just need ways to make it easier for people to make the shift,” Ms Kealy said.
“Having a reliable, fast and comfortable rail service in and out of western Victoria ticks a major box in the decentralisation argument.
“I for one am keen to step off the platform at Horsham or Hamilton and be able to work from a laptop on a train without having to worry about navigation and traffic. It is much better than driving an unproductive four hours each way.
“Of course, what we know, is that if we have a Labor-Greens government, it won’t happen at all. They’re not matching it and not committing to it.”
The Liberal-Nationals have also promised to return passenger-rail services to Dunolly, St Arnaud and Donald as a part of its plan.
Labor was quick to criticise the Coalition regional rail plan with Transport Minister Jacinta Allan saying it had ‘more holes than Swiss cheese’.
“With a history of cuts and closures, regional Victorians have a right to be doubtful,” she said.

The entire October 10, 2018 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Oct 10 2018

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