23 November 2017

Labor delivers “snail rail” for Geelong

It is about time that Premier Daniel Andrews supported my calls for fast rail for Geelong.

Labor’s botched handling of the Regional Rail Link has forced Geelong line passengers to stand on crowded trains on a service that is unreliable. A growing city like Geelong needs a first-class, fast rail service.

No request for funding has been made to the Federal Government for a quad-duplication of the Regional Rail Link from Geelong to Deer Park, but it’s a project I strongly support. I’ll keep fighting for a quad-duplication of the Regional Rail Link to give Geelong a true express rail link.

The evidence suggests that State Labor is not serious about a fast train for Geelong.

  • In June 2016, I announced with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull a $1 million election commitment to help fund a business case for the Waurn Ponds to South Geelong rail duplication. The Victorian Government has only just requested this money and has not even started the business planning process.
  • The Turnbull Government committed $20 million for fast rail business cases in the 2017-18 Budget, but disappointingly, Labor didn’t bid for funding for fast rail to Geelong.

Labor is, in reality, delivering “snail rail” for Geelong and Corangamite.

Why has Labor so delayed the business planning for the rail duplication and declined to apply for any funding for a fast train?

The Turnbull Government is getting on with the job of bringing faster, more reliable train services to the Geelong region.

This year, I secured $110 million in federal funding for early works on the South Geelong-Waurn Ponds duplication, including a second platform at Waurn Ponds. This funding will also include planning money for a rail link to Torquay. Along with the Member for Wannon Dan Tehan, I also secured $114 million in federal funding to upgrade the Warrnambool Line.

The Victorian Government has not allocated any specific state funding for these projects.

Labor Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said in May 2017 the Geelong regional rail projects were “ready to go”*. But the truth is, Labor has been dragging its heels. If the projects were “ready to go”, why hasn’t the State Government handed over the necessary project planning documents to the Federal Government yet?

Now the Turnbull Government has committed its share of the funds, there are no more excuses for Labor to delay this important work.

Of the $1.6 Victorian rail package announced in June, $1.45 billion is being invested by the Commonwealth. Only $150 million is coming from the Victorian Government.

*Hansard, Questions Without Notice and Ministers Statements, Tuesday May 2, 2017.

24 November 2017