Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says the public must have an opportunity to help shape the business case for faster rail between Traralgon and Melbourne.
Mr Chester said he had been advised the National Faster Rail Agency (NFRA) was working with officials in Victoria on the scope, timing and funding arrangements for the business case.
“I understand officials have been in Gippsland to meet with local representatives, including from the council, to understand the issues and challenges our rail users face,” Mr Chester said.
“They also looked at the opportunities to work together to speed up the rail journey between Traralgon and the city. This includes working out what upgrades and future works are needed to introduce faster rail services and cut travel times along this corridor.
“I hope regular rail users will also get an opportunity to provide input during this process, as they are arguably the ones most experienced with this service and see it at its best and worst.
“I have no doubt local commuters would put forward valuable ideas and suggestions.”
The Federal Government established the National Faster Rail Agency (NFRA) in July last year to help deliver its 20-year Fast Rail Plan to connect capital cities and key regional cities with fast rail.
The Federal Government put aside $40 million in last year’s budget to undertake five faster rail business cases, including $8 million for planning a fast rail link to Traralgon.
This investment is in addition to the $504 million secured by Mr Chester, as the then-Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister, toward a $530 million rail infrastructure upgrade of the Gippsland line.
The upgrade includes replacing the Avon River rail bridge at Stratford and duplicating sections between Traralgon and Bunyip to allow faster and more frequent services for passengers.
“For the many commuters in Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley who go to Melbourne regularly, faster rail has the potential to significantly improve their quality of life by allowing them to spend more time at home,” Mr Chester said.
“Shorter travel times between regional areas and the city can also revitalise small communities by enabling people to move to regional areas, but keep their job in the city.”