VICTORIA’S Transport Minister Jacinta Allan and her Labor colleague Jaclyn Symes are continuing to insist they cannot order new trains for the North East line until design work is completed.
The duo was reacting to a call by the Border Rail Action Group to commit to an order for fresh rolling stock as part of the 2019 state budget.
BRAG committee member John Dunstan said following the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s commitment last month to a $235 million upgrade of the North East there should be nothing to stop Labor being able to commit to an order.
“Right now the ARTC has said this project will be complete in 2021, it takes 18 months to two years for (train manufacturer) Bombardier to construct these trains, so we’re looking for a commitment and proof that the Victorian government is serious, by saying it will order the VLocitys in its next budget,” Mr Dunstan said.
“We’re sick of promises, promises.”
Ms Allan defended her government’s action on the North East line.
“It was Labor that won the fight with Canberra to finally deliver the upgrade the North East line needs – and it’s Labor that started the work to deliver the new modern trains locals deserve,” Ms Allan said.
“You can’t build a new train without designing it first and that significant work is underway for the trains to be ready once the track is complete, which is expected to be in the middle of 2021.”
Mr Dunstan cannot understand why Labor won’t match the Coalition Opposition in committing to an order for new trains as part of electioneering.
“The politician we’re particularly interested in eliciting a response from is (Northern Victoria Labor MP) Jaclyn Symes because she’s talked about the trains for years and never come out and made any concrete commitment,” he said.
“We’ve written a number of times to Jaclyn Symes and phoned her a number of times and had promises from her staff that she will ring back, but she never does.”
Ms Symes rejected the criticism, saying that she had “numerous interactions” with BRAG.
“We’re committed to having trains on the track when the track is upgraded,” she said.
“You’ve got the minister on the record, the Premier on the record and me on the record saying that.”
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