The Gippsland Local Government Network (GLGN) has used its Victorian State Budget submission to push for improved public transport in the region.
Report first published in Issue 3 of The Warragul Citizen, 12 December 2011.
Report headline in print edition: "GLGN moves for improved public transport."
Published online: 3 January 2012, 5.00PM.
The submission asks the State Government to consider $224 million in high priority and medium-term rail infrastructure, plus an additional $17 million per annum for operating expenses.
Public transport improvements are the only funding requests made in the submission.
Requested improvements include the duplication of tracks between Bunyip and Longwarry, an additional off-peak Traralgon line service, additional rolling stock to improve present service capacity and a third platform at Traralgon to allow three city-bound trains to run each hour in peak periods.
In a GLGN media release, Baw Baw Shire Mayor Councillor Diane Blackwood said that the line improvements are important for the region.
“There is a need for more public transport services and upgrades to meet the needs of a growing and ageing population and to capitalise on economic opportunities,” Cr Blackwood said.
“Patronage on the Gippsland corridor has increased by a massive 124.7% in just over 5 years. Without a new train order in next year’s budget, V/Line have projected standing room only on all interurban corridors within the next three years. This could impact on safety, reliability and comfort that will lead to widespread customer and community dissatisfaction.”
Although the GLGN’s Gippsland Regional Plan (2010) states that improved bus, train and ferry services are required in the region, the budget submission only requests money for rail projects.
Government MP and member for Narracan Gary Blackwood told The Warragul Citizen in an email that he will support the submission.
“I will certainly be supporting the GLGN Submission but it will be assessed against a range of criteria including funding availability,” Mr Blackwood said.
“It would not be appropriate for me to pre-empt any detail of the 2012 State Budget. However I can safely say that all of our pre-election commitments for the Warragul/Drouin area have been funded in forward estimates and will be delivered.”
Mr Blackwood also warned that funding options in the upcoming budget are “severely limited”.
A regional economic outlook study conducted by Access Economics found that Gippsland’s transport network is “far less developed” than those of other Victorian regions.
The GLGN includes all six Gippsland councils.
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