Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Improved rail push for Shepparton

Greater Shepparton City Council is asking the community for their opinion about the region's trains to lobby for improved passenger rail.

JARROD WHITTAKER March 14, 2014 4:44am

City of Greater Sheppraton councillor Fern Summer, SheppartonRAILS member Michael Welk and supporters campaign for improved Shepparton train services.

Years of frustration about the number of train services to Shepparton has resulted in a new push to secure an increase in passenger rail services to the region.

Greater Shepparton City Council is seeking the community’s opinion about the region’s trains ahead of efforts to lobby for improved passenger rail.

Today, the council will launch a survey aimed at gauging community satisfaction with the service.

A community forum with the public transport ombudsman and V/Line on March 26 will follow the survey.

The two events form part of the council’s Make Shepparton Greater campaign, which aims to lobby the Victorian Government for increased capital funding ahead of November’s state election.

City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Jenny Houlihan said the information gathered from the survey and forum would be used to lobby for more train services.

‘‘It’s absolutely crucial when you get to talk to politicians to have the reason behind your asks,’’ Cr Houlihan said.

‘‘We need data, we need reason, we need facts and figures.’’

Shepparton has three daily return V/Line services on weekdays. Coaches provide additional services.

Last week, the council launched the Make Shepparton Greater campaign and announced the priority infrastructure projects it would like to see funded.

In addition to passenger rail, the campaign seeks funding for four priority capital projects.

These include central business district redevelopment, Goulburn Valley Health redevelopment, new courthouse and Shepparton bypass.

Shepparton passenger rail has been a contentious issue for years in Shepparton.

Efforts to lobby for more services culminated in Victorian Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder visiting Shepparton in October 2011.

Following the visit the timetable was changed to include a service that arrived in Melbourne shortly after 9am.

Lobby group SheppartonRAILS chairman Michael Welk said Shepparton’s status as a safe seat made securing extra trains difficult.

‘‘If it were like Bendigo and Ballarat where you had swinging voters, it would be much easier,’’ Mr Welk said.

He said the group would use the forum to push for increased train services.

‘‘It should be at least 12 services a day,’’ Mr Welk said.

‘‘In the interim five services would be sufficient to start off with.’’

City of Greater Shepparton councillor Fern Summer said as a mother she was concerned about train services.

‘‘I don’t want my kids to be disadvantaged or discouraged when it comes to getting work choices or study options,’’ Cr Summer said.

‘‘They should be able to stay at home and live at home without the upheaval of moving to Melbourne.’’

Take the survey here.

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