Government assures Gippsland rail will stay

THE State Government has made a commitment to continue to operate V/Line trains on the Gippsland line between Southern Cross, Traralgon and Bairnsdale.

Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said the government had spent $6.5 million on rail renewals and maintenance on the Gippsland line during the two past financial years.

He said it would continue to work with V/Line and Public Transport Victoria to find short and long term engineering solutions for the restoration of V/Line trains between Traralgon, Sale and Bairnsdale, which are currently suspended and being replaced by road coach services.

Deputy Premier and Gippsland South MLA Peter Ryan and Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull have both stressed how much east Gippslanders used and appreciated V/Line trains.

“With some trains failing to trigger level crossing flashing lights and boom barriers in sufficient time to give road users adequate warning, V/Line had to withdraw the trains,” Mr Mulder said.

“Transport Safety Victoria backed V/Line’s actions.”

Mr Mulder said V/Line was investigating the use of a track grinding machine to ensure that the presence of a train could be detected in sufficient time to give road users warning of an approaching train.

“A longer term solution may require the installation of trackside axle counters as already used on the Pakenham to Traralgon line,” he said.

“V/Line has to fully investigate this and report to Public Transport Victoria on what is safe, feasible and cost effective.”

Mr Mulder said the state government’s spending on the Pakenham to Bairnsdale rail line included:

$200,000 on repairs to Avon River, Stratford bridge beams; $800,000 on installing warning bells,flashing lights and boom barriers at Wrights Rd, Flynn and Velore Rd, Kilmany; $300,000 on renewing level crossing boom barriers and other equipment at Yuill-Baxter Rd, Sale, Hobson St, Stratford and Munro-Stockdale Rd, Fernbank; $500,000 on replacing the Nambrok Creek rail bridge between Rosedale and Sale; $150,000 on repairs to the Latrobe River rail bridge, Rosedale; and $2.4 million on Morwell River, Morwell culvert reconstruction.

“The previous Labor government spent as little as $101.5 million on Victoria’s country passenger and freight rail network in 2007-08, compared with the Coalition government’s forecast funding of at least $123.1 million in 2012-13,” Mr Mulder said.

“Between 2006-07 and 2010-11, Labor spent $616.1 million on maintenance and renewals of our country railways.

“So far, in the five years from 2011-12 to 2015-16, the Coalition government has committed to $670.3 million in funding, yet it is more than three years before this five year period ends.”