An announcement over the design process for new VLocity trains for the North East has not impressed Nationals MP Steph Ryan, who has questioned why the process did not start months ago.
Trains are chugging along as a heated political issue in the lead up to November’s Victorian election.
But Ms Ryan pointed to a statement from Northern Victoria MP Jaclyn Symes in March, which said “design work is already underway on modifications necessary to run VLocity trains on the North East line”.
Criticism continued in Parliament on Tuesday, as Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan talked up the government’s investment in rail projects across the state.
“Jacinta Allan is boasting again about all of the money she’s spending on Melbourne transport projects yet on the north east line all the government can afford is ‘designs’ for new trains,” Ms Ryan tweeted.
The government confirmed the rolling stock design would take 12 months and the whole building process would take two years, meaning trains would be ready to use when the federal government’s track upgrade was complete – expected to be in 2022.
“I know the Nationals have never delivered new trains for country people so it makes sense they don’t understand how trains are built,” Ms Symes told The Border Mail.
“The order for the bogies has been placed now to ensure the design, construction and testing is completed to ensure we meet our promise that the new trains will be ready to run on the upgraded track.”
Border Rail Action Group member John Dunstan said the group maintained its position the new rolling stock should be used as soon as possible, even before the track work was finalised.
“VLocity run a lot of trains on the broad-gauge system that are in worse conditions than our tracks,” he said.
“It’s just rubbish.”
Indi MP Cathy McGowan welcomed the Victorian government’s commitment and thanked Ms Symes for her advocacy.
“This announcement recognises the call from communities for new rolling stock to be ordered and built ahead of the rail track upgrade being completed,” she said.
“Reaching an outcome for better rail has taken much longer than I would have liked, but it has happened.”
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