A plan to cut train travel times to Melbourne and improve services within Gippsland has been welcomed by Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.
The local MP said the Federal Government’s announcement of $8 million to fund a business case for fast rail between Traralgon and Melbourne was the next step in improving public transport connectivity in the region.
It comes on top of more than $500 million the Federal Government has already provided for much-needed rail service upgrades on the Gippsland line, including the replacement of the Avon River bridge at Stratford.
“Train services within Gippsland and services connecting us to Melbourne are currently too slow, unreliable and don’t meet the needs of today, let alone the future population of our region,” Mr Chester said.
“The funding we have already given to the State Government to improve current services won’t deal with the longer term issue of faster and more frequent services into Melbourne and connecting Sale and East Gippsland to the Latrobe Valley more regularly.
“I welcome the $8 million for the necessary planning work and studies to evaluate the best way to develop those services and give Gippslanders a better public transport network for the 21st century.”
Mr Chester said the target of reducing travel times from Traralgon to Melbourne to less than one hour was achievable with the right investment of state and federal funding.
“It can take more than two hours at the moment with an average speed of 66 km/h, which is a snail’s pace compared to modern train networks throughout Asia and Europe,” Mr Chester said.
“If we can get the average speed up to 160 km/h and improve the services which link the rest of Gippsland to the Latrobe Valley, we would see significant social and economic benefits to the entire region.
“One hour’s train travel makes Gippsland an easy day trip from Melbourne. It brings more people into our region to enjoy the range of natural attractions on offer and support local business.”
Mr Chester said the investment in fast rail came on top of $504 million from the Federal Government already announced for Gippsland rail upgrades.