Long-running works must result in more rail services: O’Brien

Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O'Brien, has called for new train services to be provided on the Gippsland line beyond Traralgon. Photo: Contributed

NATIONALS Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien has called for answers on when new train services will be provided on the Gippsland line beyond Traralgon.

Speaking in Parliament last week, Mr O’Brien, the newly appointed Shadow Minister for Public Transport, said that ongoing rail upgrade works had been promised way back in 2017, yet there was no indication when additional services would be delivered for Sale and Bairnsdale passengers.

He called on the Minister for Public Transport to outline a timeline for new services beyond Traralgon.

“The Gippsland line has benefited greatly from the $530 million Gippsland Regional Rail Revival project, funded mostly by the former Federal Coalition Government thanks to my colleague Darren Chester when he was Minister for Transport Infrastructure, but it is time to see that translate into additional services,” he said.

“There is no point in spending half a billion dollars to fix up the Gippsland rail line and actually not give us any additional services.”

With the completion of the new Avon River Bridge at Stratford and level crossing and signalling works between Traralgon and Bairnsdale, Mr O’Brien said it was time for additional services to Sale and Bairnsdale to commence.

“I am aware that funding has been provided for train stabling at Bairnsdale which will allow for VLocity trains to be stabled there. But there are no further works proposed along the line itself beyond Traralgon now,” he said.

“There is no reason why we could not get additional train services, particularly to Sale. Then, once the Bairnsdale stabling is completed we would actually have more services.”

Mr O’Brien said the discrepancy in train services on the Gippsland line compared to other regional cities was alarming.

“We currently have 19 services to Melbourne from Traralgon a day, but just three travel on to Bairnsdale, which includes stops at Rosedale, Sale and Stratford.

“That is a significant difference compared to other regional cities such as Ballarat and Bendigo, which have 20-plus.

“The comparison is fair given that Wellington and East Gippsland Shires collectively have a population of over 90,000 people. It is a significant part of the state and we do deserve additional services.”