Imagine in one breath saying "we recognise the importance of good-quality regional rail transport to give people genuine travel choices and equitable service levels" and then in the next saying an upgrade to your service shouldn't be on the priority list because it's "not nationally significant".
It seems contradictory, but that's exactly what Infrastructure Australia has concluded after looking into the business case for an almost $200 million upgrade of the North East line by the Australian Rail Track Corporation.
Furthermore, despite acknowledging that North East passengers had been plagued by "poor punctuality, reliability and comfort of the rail service, which has resulted from a lack of investment", Infrastructure Australia said the "benefits to the community were materially overestimated" in the ARTC's business case.
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North East rail users have every right to be cranky with this assessment. How long should we have to put up with a sub-standard service before it becomes a priority?
About 1800 passengers use the service between Albury-Wodonga and Melbourne each day. By our calculations, that's a tick over 650,000 per year. Nationally significant? Maybe debatable. Still significant? You bet.
We're not naive enough to think that every project affecting the Border and North East needs to be at the top of the national priority list but at the same time, especially when it comes to rail, we should be entitled to ask when is enough enough?
The upgrades include ballast depth improvements along the rail corridor, mudhole removal and track resurfacing, drainage upgrades and enhancements to about 100 level crossing and rail bridges.
John Holland Group is due to complete the project next year which is welcome news because, after more than a decade of mishaps, North East rail users have endured a pretty "significant" wait.