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Need for clarity around regional rail promises and funding

Media Release – Monday 15th May, 2017

The recent Victorian Budget has raised more questions than answers around the funding of regional rail projects.

Member for Western Victoria, Simon Ramsay, wants the Andrews Government to clarify what it has announced – and funded – for the south west of the state in the 2017-18 Budget.

“There is a great deal of confusion. On the surface, it appears as though some regional rail projects have been funded, but in reality, this may not be the case at all,” Mr Ramsay said.

The Premier announced $100 million to upgrade the Warrnambool line to run more services, and $110 million for the first stage of the Surf Coast Rail project “…which will prepare the corridor for duplication between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds, and reserve land for a future line to Torquay.”

“These projects were to be funded out of the Federal Government’s Asset Recycling Fund from which the State made a $1.4 billion Regional Rail promise.

“The total funding has not been given by the Federal Government, and nor has it been budgeted by the State,” he said.

Further, the Federal Government has promised $100 million for the Geelong duplication project to improve services from Warrnambool through to Geelong and Melbourne which includes construction of second platforms at South Geelong, Marshall and Waurn Ponds.

“But we yet to see the business case for the rail duplication between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds.

“The State’s previous budget gave $3 million for the study, and $1 million was given by the Federal Government. The state was preparing the business case but no one has seen it.

“Without the business case – we are left wondering what the State’s promised $100 million for the Warrnambool line covers. Does it marry with the Federal commitment for second platforms and duplication, or does it pay for other works on the Warrnambool line for passing loops and sidings?

“The business case would help clarify the situation.

“Making it more confusing, is the naming of the Surf Coast Rail project and the Warrnambool line project in the State Budget papers – but giving no detail.

“So, which project is funded by the State? Which is jointly funded? Which is funded at all – or just promised funding? And how is the business case relevant?

“It further muddies already dirty waters – and might be better written up in a detective novel titled ‘Tim Pallas and the case of the funny money’,” said Mr Ramsay.

Mr Ramsay has called for both Federal and State Governments to work together to confirm what has been funded under the regional rail project announcements.

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