VICTORIA’S Transport Minister has accused the state’s Opposition leader of having only “empty promises” for the North East railway line.
Jacinta Allan was reacting to Liberal leader Matthew Guy who said on a visit to Wodonga this week that the state government was “not even interested in upgrading” the troubled route.
“The member for Bulleen's sporadic interest in northern Victoria does nothing for local passengers,” the Bendigo-based Ms Allan said.
“The Liberals and Nationals neglected the North East line in government, and now in Opposition all they have to offer are vague plans and empty promises.
“We're investing $15 million to improve services while we plan for the next generation of trains on the North East line.
“Mr Guy needs to stand up to his federal Liberal and National colleagues, who are letting the North East line deteriorate - hurting services and passengers.”
In Wodonga on Wednesday, Mr Guy said the government was spending $7 billion on Melbourne rail projects but “couldn’t be bothered spending a cent here in the North East”.
“This is one of our most important railway lines in the country, it’s the Melbourne to Sydney railway line, and the government is not even interested in upgrading it,” Mr Guy said.
Planning has begun for new trains on the line, but Ms Allan has not committed to specific rolling stock.
In October, the NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance announced orders for new XPT sets would be in early next year.
New XPT carriages servicing the Border are expected to be running by 2019.
During a visit to Wangaratta in June, Ms Allan declined to nominate a date for when the 1980s V/Line rolling stock would be replaced on the Albury line.
“I can well appreciate the desire for a date to be pinpointed right now, but frustratingly because that planning work has not been done I’m not wanting to pluck a date out of thin air,” Ms Allan said.
Maintenance woes saw 47 of 55 V/Line train delays in October attributed to speed limits linked to the poor state of the track.