Nationals calling for certainty on rail upgrade

By Seymour Telegraph

The Victorian Nationals have called on Federal Labor Leader Bill Shorten to guarantee he will upgrade the north-east line if elected to government this year.

The Nationals candidate for Indi Mark Byatt joined Member for Euroa Steph Ryan in Euroa last Wednesday to lobby for the north-east line upgrade.

Mr Byatt said the Federal Nationals had allocated $235million to fix problems in the track created by the botched upgrade of the north-east line a decade ago.

‘‘Passengers on the north-east line have endured poor services for far too long,’’ Mr Byatt said.

‘‘We need certainty this rail track upgrade will go ahead no matter who wins government at this year’s election.

‘‘This is a critical piece of work.’’

While the project has gone to an expressions of interest phase, contracts are not due to be awarded until after the Federal election.

The North East Line upgrade project is currently scheduled for completion in mid-2021.

Ms Ryan said she wrote to Bill Shorten earlier this month seeking a commitment to continuing the construction project, funding for which was begun by the current Federal Coalition Government.

‘‘Federal Labor has been conspicuously absent in the debate around the north-east line,’’ she said.

‘‘We need a bipartisan commitment to completing these works.

‘‘I want Bill Shorten to give an iron-clad guarantee that the money allocated to this project won’t be redirected if he is elected to government.’’