Greens announce transport policy

Greg Barber

Greg Barber

RELATED: A trip to revive rail links between regional cities

THE Greens announced a new policy to re-open the Goldfields rail line on Wednesday. 

The "Geelong to Bendigo train service" policy states the party's support for a train line to link five major regional cities - Geelong, Ballarat, Maryborough, Castlemaine and Bendigo.

In an official statement the party said: "We know that people travel to nearby regional Victorian cities, and between them, not just to Melbourne.

"So our train services should link towns with regional cities, and link regional cities with each other," the statement read. 

"People will travel for work, education and health between regional centres with a decent train service."

Greens Member for the Northern Metropolitan Region Greg Barber said times had changed since passenger trains were withdrawn from the Goldfields rail lines in the 1970s.

"There's been a huge increase in population growth across that region with even more planned," Mr Barber said.

Mr Barber said the revival of the regional train network would enable people to live in one city and move easily to the other for work or study. 

"Once you build the services, then people make choices about where they live," he said.

"It’d be an absolute boom for the small towns."

The new policy said the re-opening of the rail lines should take place in three stages.

Stage one was to re-open the Geelong to Ballarat line with new low-cost stations at Bannockburn and Meredith to provide a commuter service for growing communities.

Stage two was to repair and rebuild the train line between Maryborough and Castlemaine, re-open Newstead station and build new low-cost stations at Carisbrook and Guildford.

Stage three was to upgrade to a faster service once the Geelong to Castlemaine service was established and then continue to Bendigo on existing tracks.

Mr Barber said the government had done a feasibility study for the rail line revival a year ago and decided not to proceed further because of estimated costs of nearly $1 billion. 

But he said the government added costs to the feasibility study to make the project appear too difficult.

"Then they just made assumptions that hardly anybody would use it," he said.

"It is a matter of political will and they don’t seem to have it for regional public transport in any area, not just this one," he said.

Mr Barber said, instead of the East-West tunnel planned for Melbourne, the money would be better spent on public transport. 

"For that money you could build a dream public transport system for city and country," he said.

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