VICTORIAN Premier Daniel Andrews has guaranteed he will provide the cash for new trains on the troubled North East line once the federal government makes a commitment to fix the track.
The strongest indication yet a deal will be brokered by the federal and state governments to remedy the long-standing issue was made by Mr Andrews in his home town of Wangaratta on Friday.
He said he would phone Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull the moment the federal government provided the cash for the track with confirmation the funding could be in the two upcoming budgets.
“This has gone on for a very long time,” Mr Andrews said.
“I'm the best briefed Premier in the history of this state of the failings on the North East line.
“Let's have the federal government provide the money for the track and my government will provide the money for the trains and we will get on with making this service much, much better.”
The prospect the North East line could be fixed sooner than expected came recently when the federal government flagged a major rail announcement in its next budget.
The $1 billion funding package linked to the Port of Melbourne sale would also see the Bairnsdale and Warrnambool lines also fixed.
Mr Andrews' latest visit to the North East coincided with another train fault which forced passengers to travel by bus.
The Premier said he had spoken to his transport minister Jacinta Allan about the North East line before arriving in Wangaratta and confirmed some “very productive discussions” had been held with the federal government in recent times.
“We stand ready once allocations are made to improve the track to fulfill our important obligations around trains,” he said.
“Residents across the North East are sick and tired of it.”
Meanwhile, Mr Andrews distanced himself from the verbal sparring between his deputy James Merlino and member for Benambra Bill Tilley about parliamentary entitlements.
“You need to speak to Mr Tilley about his name and his arrangements,” he said.
“Often when people feel under a bit of pressure they tend to abuse a lot of other people.
“It's not my style though.”