On Monday 18 June at 12 noon at Wangaratta railway station, local member of Parliament Ken Jasper MLA will conduct the North East regional launch of the new country public transport report ‘Driving The Fast Train Further-Integrated Public Transport for All Victoria’.
Environment Victoria spokesman and one of the report’s authors John McPherson said that a key recommendation in the report was the extension of the Fast Rail concept to the other main transport corridors in Victoria. He said: ” The state government’s current plans for Fast Rail corridors to Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and Traralgon are a great start to a rail renaissance in Victoria, but only 40% of rural and regional people live in those four corridors. Counting Albury and district the North East corridor has a total population approaching 350,000 people far exceeding any of the Fast Train corridors presently proposed.”
The spokesman continued: “The report shows that Albury/Wodonga would be only 2.5 hours travel time from central Melbourne and Wangaratta only 2 hours, which is much faster than by car. But this would need the use of new 160km/hour railcars that are to be built for the Fast Train corridors. Only three of the new railcar sets would be needed to provide a fast train service every two hours in each direction all day north to Wangaratta and Albury/Wodonga, but they may not be available for corridors other than the four Fast Train routes.”
Mr McPherson mentioned that the government’s recently released plans for standardisation of more Victorian rail lines would also impact the north east region with possible major benefits for rail freight but also possible benefits for faster passenger train services south to Melbourne but also north to NSW and Sydney. “If the single broad gauge rail track to Albury is standardised, then along with the present parallel single standard gauge rail line, a high speed two track rail freeway one third the way to Sydney would be created very cheaply. New signalling would be needed and some upgrade of track conditions for heavier freight trains that would also allow frequent passenger trains at 160km/hour or even faster” he said.
“The other important aspect of the report is the emphasis on high frequency coach services to link with frequent trains to give good public transport to all areas of the North East such as the Alpine region. Towns that should benefit from much more frequent connections include Bright, Myrtleford, Beechworth, Rutherglen and many others. Even connections over the Great Alpine Road to East Gippsland every day of the week should be part of the network. An integrated public transport system for the North East would give major benefits to tourism and also commuting, business travel and access to community facilities” the spokesman concluded.