United front is more effective

March 01, 2018

Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes is calling on Member for Euroa Steph to help lobby the federal government for further investment into the North East rail line.

Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes believes the money on the table for the North East line upgrade is ‘‘nowhere near enough’’. It is why she is calling on the Federal Government to invest more.

She said Victoria Government sources estimated $200million more was required from Commonwealth to deliver the standard class two track, allowing trains to run up to 130km/h.

‘‘There have been really positive discussions with the Minister for Transport Jacinta Allan and the federal counterparts,’’ Ms Symes said.

‘‘So that’s why I’ve called on my state colleagues to help, because there’s a little bit of flux up in Canberra at the moment ... I just want to make sure this issue is on the table.

‘‘We all welcomed the $100million from the Federal Government to fix the North East track (in 2017) but our experts have been meeting and we know that it’s just nowhere near enough.’’

Now Ms Symes is calling on Member for Euroa Steph Ryan to help lobby the Federal Government for additional funding.

In a letter written to Ms Ryan on February 22, Ms Symes said while the $100million would improve passenger service resilience, reliability, and ride quality, she believed it was not enough to bring the track up to an acceptable standard.

‘‘The Victorian Government has invested $2million to design new rolling stock for the North East line to replace the existing classic fleet,’’ the letter said.

‘‘For these new modern trains to run reliably and at optimal speed on the North East line we need at least a class two standard track — this is the standard that applies across the majority of the regional passenger network in Victoria, where V/Locity trains runs.

‘‘I hope to work with you over the coming months to secure the investment necessary to bring the track up to an acceptable standard, to reliably and optimally run the new trains the Victorian Government has said it will provide.

‘‘I invite your assistance to urge your Federal parliamentary colleagues, including the current Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, to provide the additional funding so that the passengers on the North East line receive the services they deserve.’’

But Ms Ryan said the main reason for breakdowns on the North East line was the quality of the rolling stock which she said was a state responsibility.

‘‘Commuters on our line are sick of these petty political games. They want action, not more excuses from Daniel Andrews and Jaclyn Symes,’’ Ms Ryan said.

Ms Ryan also said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews made a commitment in April last year to fix the trains if the Federal Government invested to fix the tracks.

‘‘A month later, the Federal Government announced $140million to fix the line and I have been reminding the premier of that commitment in Parliament ever since,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘Ms Symes’ letter, which was sent to the media before it was sent to MPs, is a shameful attempt to wriggle out of Daniel Andrews’ commitment which was sold as an ironclad guarantee.’’

The North East railway line runs from Melbourne to Albury via Seymour, Benalla, Wangaratta and Wodonga.

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