The North East line could be waiting six to eight years for an announcement on new rolling stock, advocates have warned.
Border Rail Action Group chairman Bill Traill said the lengthy timeframe was suggested by some people within the Hume Corridor Passenger Rail Collaboration, which also includes representatives from Albury, Wodonga, Wangaratta and Benalla councils.
“BRAG is inclined to agree if replacement means a brand new model of ‘new generation’ train to be planned and built,” he said.
“Disintegration will well and truly set in by then, with the rail service taken over by buses.”
Disintegration will well and truly set in by then, with the rail service taken over by buses.BRAG chairman Bill Traill
He said the “glimmer of hope” to replacing the old carriages, which frequently break down on the North East line, was the new VLocity carriages.
The three-carriage trains can travel up to 160km/h – 30km/h faster than existing trains – if the track allows.
“It lies in circumstantial evidence that the case for the VLocity-based service is finding favour within sections of the Victorian transport hierarchy,” Mr Traill said.
“There has been a recent flurry of activity modifying level crossings on the North East corridor, presumably to safely accommodate faster trains. BRAG has long had the VLocity train model on its radar.”
The Victorian government promised it would only fund new rolling stock when its federal counterparts fixed the track, but allocated $311.1 million in this year’s budget for million for 39 new VLocity carriages and a re-design of all VLocity trains to enable them to run on long-haul services like the North East line.
The government did not respond to The Border Mail’s request for comment on the status of the VLocity trains.