Community rallies for regional rail link

A RALLY supporting the re-introduction of passenger trains between major regional towns could turn the tables for "neglected" country residents. 

It follows a community push for a rail link to be built between Bendigo, Castlemaine, Maryborough, Ballarat and Geelong.

A Public Transport Victoria study, conducted earlier this year, estimated the project could cost between $760 million and $935 million.

But the Rail Revival Alliance, which started as a Facebook group of concerned residents, is adamant the project would only cost between $80 to $100 million after completing its own study. 

Member Noel Laidlaw, an engineer, says the group's proposal would allow for a "perfectly adequate passenger rail benefiting the entire state". 

Fellow member Scott Ramsey said the country as a whole didn't value rail - but it should. 

"We want to see neglected regional centres not playing second fiddle to Melbourne," he said. 

"It disgusts me the way the railway infrastructure has been neglected and we're certainly paying for it now.

"There's no doubt rail is a more effective and efficient way of carrying people and freight and this link would open up so many opportunities."

Mr Laidlaw agreed the link would result in far-reaching benefits.

“It has different aspects all the way along the line; it isn’t just about the people who could jump on a train in Bendigo and travel to Geelong,” he said. 

Some of the claims of projected over-spending Mr Laidlaw shared include the aim to have the train travel at 160km/h and spending more than $200 million on works between Castlemaine and Bendigo. 

A Public Transport Victoria spokesperson said Mr Laidlaw’s proposal had been received and was being assessed and reviewed.

The rally will be on Sunday at 2pm at Carisbrook Train Station. 

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