Opposition rail pledge welcome, but is it enough?
Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed says an Opposition election promise to invest in Shepparton’s train line is welcome, but says it needs to be fully costed by the Parliament’s Budget Office.
Ms Sheed said she had been working closely with the Government throughout the development of the Regional Network Development Plan and since to advocate for a full suite of appropriate rail services for Shepparton District and said she was concerned the Liberal National Coalition’s $77 million would not fund the extent of work required.
“Rail has been my number one priority since entering Parliament so it is pleasing to finally see the major parties paying attention to the needs of our community, but I am concerned this figure will not be enough to achieve what they have pledged,” Ms Sheed said.
“It is my understanding that to complete all the necessary works to reach a minimum of eight high-quality return services each day, we’re talking in the hundreds of millions, not the tens of millions.
“It’s costing the current Government $43.5 million to simply upgrade stabling facilities in Shepparton, create a passing loop and add a fifth daily service – it seems logical that the cost of upgrading nearly 100km of tracks, modernising the signalling systems and doing works on more than 30 level crossings will require much more money than the Coalition has pledged.”
Ms Sheed urged the Opposition to have the works costed by the new Parliamentary Budget Office.
“Victoria’s first Parliamentary Budget Officer was appointed last week and is now available for preparing election policy costings,” Ms Sheed said.
“It would be excellent if the Opposition could submit this election promise for review so we can all be assured of what that money could realistically deliver well in advance of the election in November.”
Ms Sheed also called on the Government to make its own commitment to fully overhaul the region’s rail service.
“I have made it clear to the Government that rail is of utmost importance to our community and with the final budget of this Parliamentary term due next week, I would hope to see that message reflected in a strong funding commitment.”
Riahn Smith 0419 138 978│firstname.lastname@example.org