The release of the Regional Network Development Plan designed to drive future investment in regional transport will come as a bad joke to local commuters according to Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood and Member for Morwell Russell Northe.
After a year of waiting, the Regional Network Development Plan has been released and contains no immediate action for the future of the Gippsland Line, with the Regional Network Development Plan instead appearing to be no more than another discussion paper.
‘After waiting nearly a year already for the Regional Network Development Plan to be released which the Labor Government promised would shape the future of transport in regional Victoria today’s announcement does nothing to outline how the network can increase capacity,’ Mr Blackwood said.
‘2,800 individual comments regarding the Gippsland Line were made to the submission process and to not announce anything meaningful today that will improve services, frequency or reliability is staggering.
‘This document is nothing more than a whitepaper that discusses what commuters want, summarises public meetings held as part of the Regional Network Development Plan discussions and does not deliver one new cent to actually improve services, their frequency or reliability.
‘Commuters know what they want from a public transport network and many had hoped their input to the plan would see real investment and real improvements and today’s announcement does nothing to move our network forward.
‘The Regional Network Development Plan is a glossy brochure that typifies how this Labor Government sees Gippsland regional commuters; as second class citizens,’ said Mr Blackwood.
Member for Morwell Russell Northe said that Gippsland had already missed out on new rolling stock and seen no funding in the State Budget for delivery of meaningful line infrastructure.
‘New rolling stock ordered by the Andrews Government is being directed to Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo, major infrastructure investment is also being delivered on those lines, with Gippsland being left to fend for itself,’ said Mr Northe.
‘The Andrews Labor Government is more interested in business cases, conversations and consultation rather than doing something to deliver real improvements for local commuters.
‘In 2014 the Victorian Coalition committed to a $2.5 billion investment between Melbourne and Bairnsdale that would have seen more rolling stock, duplication of track at major bottlenecks, additional peak services for Gippsland commuters and improved frequency and reliability for the line.
‘The Andrews Government has had significant time, two State Budgets, record revenue and still has failed to deliver real investment to improve the Gippsland V/Line network.
‘Gippsland commuters have suffered through some of the worst delays the line has ever seen thanks to Labors failure to invest in regional public transport projects and a lack of action or interest by the Minister for Public Transport.
‘Regional commuters were promised that the release of the Regional Network Development Plan would guide future investment for the region and instead today we see an aspiration whitepaper that has a lot of artwork, a lot of discussion and summary but no real substance.
‘The announcements that have been made by Labor to date for regional commuters consist of business plans, discussion papers and funding for station upgrades that contain no detail about which stations will actually receive funding and what those projects will deliver on the ground.
‘Again today commuters see that Labor are all talk and no action when it comes to the Gippsland Line, instead choosing to put off real investment in favour of other regional areas,’ Mr Northe said. The Victorian Coalition in 2014 committed to;
- $2.5 billion upgrade to Pakenham/Cranbourne line that would improve frequency of Gippsland V/Line services;
- $178.1 million to duplicated track between Bunyip and Longwarry;
- A new train maintenance depot at Pakenham;
- 25 new trains for the eastern network; and
Duplication to track within the Gippsland corridor between Moe and Traralgon.