WE SAY: Gloves are off for new round of train fights

Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan

One day we are going to welcome a visit from a politician, in government, who will make an announcement about an appropriate amount of cash and a viable solution to fix the North East rail dramas – that day is not quite today.

Given the decade of troubles we have experienced, it may be optimistic to believe there is an end point to all this, but we have to have hope.

The fact she has already put pressure on the federal government to release more money for the North East rail line pretty clearly flags this is a visit to continue an ongoing battle.

In the red corner we have the Victorian government, who say a better upgrade – costing more than the $100 million already allocated – is needed to bring the North East rail line up to the “class 2” standard needed to run faster, more reliable trains.

In the blue corner we have the federal government and Australian Rail Track Corporation, who say faster, more reliable trains like NSW’s XPT service are already running on the track as it stands so it extra upgrade is not needed.

Someone is right and someone is wrong.

Poor commuters do not deserve to keep suffering through train delays and cancellations while politicians and public servants state their side of the argument as fact.

Ms Allan’s comment about the “recent chaos coming out of Canberra” being to blame for a lack of action is something many in the community would be thinking, but also shows the Labor Party are willing to keep bickering.

Then on Sunday we had the Victorian Opposition enter the fight from the stands, promising $633 million for the new train carriages we have been waiting to receive.

The problem is they are not in government and still need to win November’s state election for that to happen.

Victoria’s trains have now officially become an election issue, meaning we have eight more months of arguments from all sides to listen to before we go to the polls.

Ms Allan will no doubt have something to say on the matter on Monday morning.

It is unlikely she will match the Opposition’s promise so quickly, but anything other than a solid plan for new rolling stock, announced before the November election, will have Labor under plenty of pressure.