On July 20th the Victorian Government announced a $126 million rail investment, as part of the government’s economic response to the coronavirus crisis. Investment is necessary for supporting regional communities during this time of economic hardship and renewing regional Victoria’s dated freight and passenger rail services.
The $83 million freight improvement package is said to update and renew almost 400 kilometres of freight-only rail lines. In doing so, it is suggested the package will assist western district farmers, by slashing transport costs and enabling heavier trains to use the rail lines. This will also reduce the road transport of grains during the wheat season. Moreover, signal upgrades in Maryvale will update the sidings from manual to automatic, increasing the capacity of the railway line.
The Railway Alliance have stated that this $83 million is a regular budget measure and believes this the package to be a small move forward.
It is important that our government supports the enhancement of regional farmers’ viable freight options, as shifting from road to rail could reduce road congestion and cut carbon emissions.
The $7.5 million allocated to improving the reliability of our regional passenger network and the $36 million allocated to maintaining the V/line classic fleet will enhance the mobility of regional Victorian’s. However, this investment should be just the beginning of a much larger plan to update regional Victoria’s transport networks. Households now facing unprecedented economic hardship will require that there be more affordable, accessible and reliable transportation options in the future.