The Weekly Advertiser

EDITORIAL| Get back on the rails

Dean Lawson Editorial Nov 2017
It is an understatement to say the new State Government is on notice to fix the Wimmera’s passenger-rail dilemma.
With the potential disappearance of the interstate Overland train in the future, a service the Labor government is using as a regional transport backstop, it now has no legitimate excuse in ignoring the issue.
That is if it is still the Labor Party that maintains the aim to, as former Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam said: “Promote equality, to involve the people of Australia in the decision-making processes of our land, and to liberate the talents and uplift the horizons of the Australian people.”
Can we please forget party politics on this occasion and do what’s right simply and allow a region, regardless of its historical political alliances, to ‘uplift its horizons’ and try to push ahead?
Just about every development expert and their dog have identified a consistent passenger rail service as a key driver to opening up the potential of what represents most of western Victoria.
We might understand a bandaid approach if returning appropriate Victorian domestic passenger rail services beyond Ararat represented a financially prohibitive or tough engineering challenge.
But it doesn’t. The tracks and systems are in place, the platforms are there and critically, it’s how people want to travel.
We like to think we are also living in a modern and progressive state.
What makes the situation worse is that a solution is as obvious as picking up a sleeper and using it to belt the government across the moosh.
How many times have we heard the concept of a two-carriage ‘sprinter’ train that could travel on standard-gauge lines from at least Dimboola to Ararat and back, where passengers could switch to broad-gauge V/Line services and vice-versa? There are too many to count.
Sorry, government responses such as ‘watch this space’ in reference to regional rail projects and plans don’t cut it in our part of the world. We need solid solutions and assurances. The government has thrown a few development dollars here and there in the region for various projects, but that’s like building walls without establishing foundations.
For everything to work and progress, we need, as we always have, to be able to move all types of people – from business and industry leaders to children, the elderly and disabled – efficiently to and from the region.
Some of us who have watched this issue fester are sick of the furphies, contradictions and blatant disregard from leaders who should know better.
It’s pointless in pointing the finger at the South Australian Government for pulling its funding for the Overland service and we applaud the Victorian Government’s response late yesterday.
The reality is the Overland is an indirect tourist train that takes the long way round to and from Melbourne and in modern times has far from stacked up as an appropriate domestic service.
Many people who live in the Wimmera are proud Victorians and are no less Victorians than anyone else living in the state.
We’re unsure if everyone is seeing it that way.

The entire December 12, 2018 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Dec 12 2018

Posted by on Dec 12 2018. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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