Next stop on the lobby loop

Government roles have reversed in the perpetual push for meaningful upgrades to the Gippsland rail line, which continues to be plagued with punctuality issues and capacity problems.

No less than five Coalition politicians yesterday rallied at the Traralgon train station, launching a petition calling on the Andrews Labor government to prioritise funding for the troubled stretch of track.

The latest funding cry calls for the duplication of the rail line between Bunyip and Longwarry, more weekly services, and additional V/Line rolling stock to reduce overcrowding.

The petition comes after the Coalition failed to make a similar duplication commitment after four years in government, despite ongoing lobbying calls from public transport advocates.

Member for Morwell Russell Northe said while the Coalition “absolutely understood the imperative need” to improve the rail line services while in power, they “did not have the finances available to it”, citing a $500 million funding shortfall in the Regional Rail Link, a western suburb project, commissioned by the former Labor government.

A Coalition promise to duplicate the line between Bunyip and Longwarry and introduce 24 new weekly trips fell through after it failed to gain power at the November election.

Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood described the Bunyip to Longwarry single track rail stretch as “a bit of a snag”, which without duplication, complicated the addition of more services to the line.

“You’ve got to be fair about this, Gippsland MPs lobbied very, very hard for this during our term in government,” Mr Blackwood said.

Upper house member for Eastern Victoria Region Harriet Shing described the petition as “a bit rich” when the Coalition had “ample opportunity to fix the problems” while in government.

“I’m always of the view that it is Gippsland’s turn to get a fair share of attention and the resources and investment through infrastructure spend, through ongoing programs and service delivery,” Ms Shing said.