IT is a fair bet that most would just roll their eyes in frustrated disdain at the claim and counterclaim thrown about on the disaster that is the Border passenger rail service.
Both the conservatives and Labor have had enough time in power to have made some meaningful progress towards a fix. And yet all these years later, there is nothing to show for all the talk.
We still have unreliable engines, the other rolling stock used to carry passengers is woefully inadequate – cosmetic upgrades don’t really count – and the track continues to be anything but of a first-world standard.
Yet again though that has not stopped the insults from flying.
The latest is from the latest Public Transport Minister, Labor’s Jacinta Allan, decrying the efforts of the Liberals and Nationals on the North East line. Specifically, Ms Allan dismissed the Opposition – which has promised $633 million if elected to spend on replacing V/Line’s diesel-powered fleet with a variation of the VLocity train – as simply playing “catch-up” on the line.
Further, she accused the Opposition of showing interest only because it was an election year.
That might be the case, given talk is about the only thing that any of us have had from each of the main political parties.
This has created such an air of cynicism among the travelling public that they are left with just one wish; for this talk to stop and for some real action.
Ms Allan spoke of a stepping-up of efforts to get more federal funding in order to bring the line up to class two standard to actually run the VLocity trains.
She says there is no other choice – it’s federal track, so the federal government – under its infrastructure and transport minister, Wagga’s Michael McCormack – has to act first.
If we take this on face value, at the very least it requires the federal government to take seriously the same end game by making this money available.
That is especially the case given Ms Allan pointing out, again, that Labor has made a “very, very clear commitment” to buy the trains needed, but that this was not possible until the line was addressed.
To make that happen, Labor has highlighted how the $100 million federal allocation is not quite enough to make the whole thing work. It would seem that now provides the window of opportunity for a genuine redressing of the passenger rail debacle.