Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Cobram residents miss their train

Statewide roads and public transport study calls for increased governemnt funding, sparks memories of Cobram passenger rail service.

ROBERT HENSON August 22, 2014 3:36am

On the move: Moira Shire Council tourism information services officer Mandy Roberts sells Vline tickets at Cobram Barooga Tourism Information Centre.

While a road study calls for improved road services across the state, many Cobram residents and visitors still yearn for a return to rail.

The RACV’s Regional Victoria Growing Pains report recommends a number of rail and bus improvements said to provide better connections within — and between — regional cities and to Melbourne.

Cobram’s passenger rail service was cancelled in August 1993 and is not likely to return with bitumen road sealings over railway tracks.

Many still avoid the replacement bus service and yearn for the days when a smooth line of rail stretched from Melbourne to Cobram.

Moira Shire Council tourism information services officer Mandy Roberts said passengers complained about disabled access for buses, requiring ramps and lifts.

‘‘A lot of people want the train back, people whinge about it all the time,’’ she said.

‘‘There’s more room (on a train) than on the bus, you can get up and walk around, go to a cafe.’’

Ms Roberts said on the weekends only having two services per day was ‘‘hard’’.

‘‘So it’s either 5.30am or 2.30pm. A lot of people want the the afternoon service back, so you can get there (Melbourne) about 6pm, but that (service is) only during the week.’’

The visitor centre records between 200 to 300 people per week buying V/Line tickets, with that number rising during the warmer months with more itinerant workers and tourism.

Ms Roberts said the link with Melbourne was ‘‘absolutely’’ necessary for the town’s economy.

‘‘Otherwise we’re cut off from the world, really,’’ she said.

‘‘A lot of people can’t drive, they might be going for an operation on their cataracts, and the bus is less stressful.

‘‘Some go for movies, skateparks, shopping, TAFE courses, doctors appointments.’’

The RACV’s report also found the majority of the state’s regional highways were severely lacking when it came to safety.

Fifty-four per cent of the Goulburn Valley Hwy is rated with three stars on the Australian Road Assessment Program, while 16 per cent rated two stars.

RACV’s public policy general manager Brian Negus said an investment of $580million would achieve the minimum three-star standard, saving at least 2800 people from serious injury or death during the next 20 years.

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