| September 07, 2017

Train services in Shepparton

I rise to talk about an issue that is still burning for many of the people in the Goulburn Valley, and it is one that I have raised in parliament quite a few times—that is, the train service that is continually ignored by the Victorian Labor government.

Shepparton is a dynamic city and a service centre for a whole range of other smaller towns and cities around it, but, for too long, our needs have been swept under the carpet and simply put in the too-hard basket by a Labor government that has been ruling in Victoria for 14 of the last 18 years. And, when you look around the state, you will see that, while 70,000 people live in Shepparton, within another 30-minute radius, there is a population of well over 100,000 people.

It's astonishing that the Labor Party in Victoria is a bottomless pit—having just sold the lease to the Port of Melbourne for 50 years, they got an unexpected $9 billion payload—and all it can do is stand in a corner and throw $1.2 billion out the window because it elected not to build a road that is going to cost them $1.2 billion in penalties. This is still very fresh in the minds of the people of the Shepparton and the Goulburn Valley region where they have a Premier and Labor Party that are wasting money. Yet, when it comes to fixing up a train line so there is an adequate service, somehow they don't have the money to do it.

Many comparisons have been made between the Shepparton service and those of other major regional cities around Victoria. Bendigo has 20 daily services and is about to increase to, I think, another eight to 10. We understand that Bendigo is about 28 kilometres closer to Melbourne than Shepparton and, at speed, the difference between these two cities is negligible. So this 30-odd kilometres of difference has very little to do with it.

We simply have a Labor Party in Victoria that doesn't want to know about one particular part of the state. We have a Premier in Victoria who won't even go to the Campaspe shire. He's so embarrassed about the fact that he hasn't been there during his premiership that the local paper started to run a campaign to try to get him into one of the most visited tourist areas in the state. For some reason, the Premier doesn't want to travel to some of the other parts of the state.

But now we have a situation where we have a train service that is actually slower than what it was 25 years ago. The top speed of the train service to Shepparton is 75 kilometres per hour and it takes 3½ hours. You can drive to Melbourne in just under two hours—and we wonder why the patrons are not using the current service. It's because the current service is absolute rubbish. We need the Victorian government to understand that the cities on the north-east line of Wangaratta and Wodonga need assistance with getting a better rail service. The Shepparton line needs a better service. Constituents have rung my office to tell me that, from Mooroopna, they would rather drive to Bendigo to catch the service into Melbourne than drive the six kilometres to Shepparton station. If this is not a sign of ridiculousness, I don't know what is.

I implore the Victorian state government to start looking at this part of the state and delivering some decent rail services that are going to compare favourably with other parts of the state, such as the enormous upgrades on the Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo lines. There is going to be further investment in some of these lines that will see the Labor party seats well and truly catered for while other parts of the state, political or not, are simply forgotten about by the Labor Party in Victoria.

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