Rail line won't cope with growth, say Greens

V/LINE train services to Colac and Warrnambool won’t meet the demand from forecasted population growth according to Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber.

Mr Barber referred to a 2011 V/Line document which noted that the Warrnambool station facilities were “inadequate even for the current patronage level, especially at peak times”.

The report also noted a fourth daily service to Warrnambool wouldn’t be possible until the state government committed to upgrading the Shepparton line to take modern trains, which would free up older locomotive-hauled rolling stock.

It stated that upgrades to five crossings between Marshall and Warrnambool would speed up trains.

Mr Barber said people were crying out for better V/Line services from Colac and Warrnambool.

“V/Line would like to add a fourth daily service, but that depends on the Baillieu government committing to upgrade the Shepparton line,” he said. 

“Most of the track is a single line, five dangerous crossings between Marshall and Warrnambool slow the trains down and the customer facilities are inadequate even for the current train users.

“The report forecasts very strong population growth in Colac and Warrnambool in the next 20 years and flags Colac for a peak period commuter service to Geelong and Melbourne if the bus trial is successful.”

The report noted a peak coach service is being offered as a trial to test the demand for these services.

Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder said the state government was investing in record amounts of rail maintenance, has ordered 40 new V/Line carriages and is improving safety at regional level-crossings across Victoria. 

“Unfortunately after a decade of Labor’s infamous neglect of public transport, the Coalition government is working hard to fix Labor’s mess,” he said.

“The Coalition government has invested more than $200 million in 40 new rail cars to meet projected demand. 

“We are currently constructing a 10km passing loop at Birregurra between Colac and Winchelsea to plan for further growth on the corridor. The passing loop will allow for more trains on the line. 

“The original passing loop was removed by the former Labor government,” Mr Mulder said. 

“The loop will give added flexibility to V/Line, especially in situations where freight trains might be running at the same time.”

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