Saturday, April 13, 2024

Central Goldfields on track for better rail

Central Goldfields Shire Council has met with the Rail Futures Institute (RFI) to discuss how both organisations can work together to achieve enhanced rail services.

The Rail Futures Institute is an expert, independent and nonpartisan group formed to advocate for sustainable rail solutions for public transport and freight solutions. Its membership includes experienced rail professionals, engineers and economists.

The RFI has identified that weekend services to Maryborough and returning to Ballarat and Melbourne is a key priority and that the lack of this provision denies Maryborough basic service levels enjoyed by all other key regional locations, Council said in a statement today.

The RFI and Council have both written to the Minister for Public Transport, Ben Carroll, seeking these additional services, with Council stressing the added benefits to tourism recovery from the pandemic.

“The Rail Futures Institute recognises the priority need for weekend passenger rail services between Melbourne, Ballarat and Maryborough and we are pleased to partner with Central Goldfields Shire Council and other councils and regional organisations advocating to the Victorian Government for this outcome,” said Rail Futures President, John Hearsch.

Central Goldfields Shire Mayor, Chris Meddows-Taylor, said: “Council was delighted to be able to work with such a well-respected expert organisation and deeply appreciated RFI’s support for weekend passenger rail services to Maryborough as a priority.” He added that Council had reminded the Government of past commitment to extend the weekend services to Dunolly.

“Quite frankly we were blown away at the readiness of the RFI to advocate for this added provision and the support of the RFI really adds so much to the case for this to be delivered. Council and the RFI will work closely together on further advocacy to the Government on this and other passenger service enhancement opportunities,” the Mayor said.

He said other opportunities for collaboration include added weekday services more closely in line with those provided on the Ararat line and faster passenger services to Ballarat. There is also the opportunity to support the longer term RFI Golden Triangle proposal to establish passenger rail connections between the three key regional cities of Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo via Maryborough, and utilising the currently dormant Inglewood – Marong – Eaglehawk line section.

“The RFI Golden Triangle proposal makes so much sense with World Heritage Listing for the Central Victorian Goldfields very much on the cards. It’s a truly visionary proposal but has immense potential” Mayor Meddows-Taylor said.

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