Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Rail under spotlight again

Federal Member Sophie Mirabella is eagerly awaiting the findings of a report on the north east rail line.

February 18, 2013 4:52am

Sophie Mirabella MP (Lib Vic Indi) during Question Time in the House of Reps, Parliament House, Canberra 5 February 2013. Pic David Foote

Member for Indi Sophie Mirabella says she is eagerly anticipating the findings contained in the long awaited Australian Transport Safety Bureau report into the north-east rail line, due to be released this month.

It is expected the report will contain a thorough analysis of the North East Rail Revitalisation Project. The project, which was due to be completed in 2010, is still mired by safety problems, resulting in speed restrictions on large sections of the track between Albury and Melbourne.

‘‘It’s been a year and a half in the making, so hopefully this report will be able to provide all of us with some much-needed answers,’’ Mrs Mirabella said.

‘‘The obvious question is: how do you spend more than $600million on a rail upgrade, only to be left with a track that’s in worse condition than when the work began?

‘‘The Federal Government and the ARTC have continually blamed the rain. Well, I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t cut it. Surely a $600million upgrade should be able to withstand a bit of inclement weather.

‘‘This whole sorry saga has been a perfect illustration of Gillard Government incompetence. The Victorian Government have done everything within their power to return V/Line services to the north-east, but there is nothing they can do about the state of the track.

‘‘It’s about time the Federal Government and the ARTC started pulling their own weight.

‘‘Hopefully, this report will kick them into gear.’’

Mrs Mirabella said the Gillard Government would never have commissioned the report had it not been for the relentless pressure applied by herself, local commuters and the local press.

‘‘Having this report commissioned was a small victory in itself, but it will mean very little unless the Federal Government and the ARTC actually read it and act on its recommendations.’’

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