Greens candidate for McMillian Donna Lancaster has spoken out about V-Line crisis, openly criticising the new Federal Minister for Transport and Infrastructure for his supposed disinterest.
Donna Lancaster strongly believes Gippslander Darren Chester is only interested in road investment and conveys that V-Line is a state issue.
“At present with the V-line crisis only 28% of travel into Central Gippsland is by train”, Ms Lancaster said.
“No travel into South Gippsland is by rail. If duplication of the rail line in the south east does not occur, travel will continue to be problematic for Gippslanders.”
Donna Lancaster proposes a mass protest in Warragul, pointing to the success of Bendigo residents who were able to overturn a bike ban.
“I would suggest a mass protest of users, say at Warragul to say enough is enough.”
” I know several years ago the Bendigo line users did a mass protest about the bike ban and got attention and the rules overturned. A large group protesting about the poor service might get some more attention to your plight.
In a statement, the Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, dismisses Ms Lancaster’s comments and says his words were taken out of context.
“For the purpose of correcting the record, that’s not what I said”, Mr Chester said.
“The current reliability problems we are seeing with V/Line are 100 per cent a State Government responsibility and the State Government should fix its problems.”
“If there are long-term infrastructure projects the Victorian Government would like to implement to improve Gippsland V/Line services, then I am happy to work with them on that.”
Last week, Baw Baw Shire council facilitated a meeting between the Gippsland V-Line User Group and One Gippsland, the representative body for the region.
Government, industry and community based representatives heard first-hand accounts of the frustrations Gippsland V-Line Customers experience.
Gippsland V/Line User Group representative and local resident Natalie Thorne provided an insight into the issues faced by commuters and possible solutions that could address certain challenges at the meeting.
Baw Baw Shire Mayor Joe Gauci said the meeting was able to provide valuable perspective and the prospect of relevant groups to work together towards resolving the train woes.
“Our priority is to ensure that services are returned to the Gippsland line as soon as possible, and that upgrades to this line remain a priority for the State Government”, Cr Gauci said.
“The Gippsland Local Government Network will also continue to work closely with the Gippsland V/Line Users Group and other stakeholders to build on the rail infrastructure program identified in the Australian Government’s fifteen year infrastructure plan.”