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Tuesday, 18 November 2014 14:53

Mayors welcome Coalition’s Warrnambool-Geelong rail pledge and call on Labor to match

Mayors from Councils along the Warrnambool to Geelong rail line welcomed today's Coalition election promise of increased passenger services on the line and called on Labor to match the commitment.

The Coalition today announced a fourth extra weekday train, the weekday lunchtime train from Southern Cross to Warrnambool departing 40 minutes earlier, and a new return Sunday train with on board buffet.

The Coalition also foreshadowed the possibility of a fifth daily service, to be provided by road coach.

The announcement was in response to strong lobbying by G21 – Geelong Region Alliance and the Great South Coast Group and their member councils over an extended period.

The Chair of G21 Cr Darryn Lyons and the Chair of the Great South Coast Cr Chris O'Connor welcomed the Coalition announcement but said it needed to be matched by Labor.

The Mayors said both major parties had boasted their credentials pre-election on public transport, but to date only the Coalition had acknowledged the needs of people living along the Warrnambool to Melbourne railway with a firm commitment.

Great South Coast Chair Cr Chris O'Connor said Mayors from both regions would now be asking Labor candidates to sign a pledge card promising to fund additional passenger services, making it a bipartisan election pledge.

"Having just three services a day is a clear barrier to development in our region," Cr O'Connor said.

"We need to get to at least four – and in the longer-term, five – daily services if we're going to be a healthy, economically buoyant and livable community.

"We call on Labor to match the Coalition's pledge."

G21 Chair Cr Darryn Lyons also called on Labor and other parties to match the Coalition's promise.

"The time has come to improve public transport access to world-class services for those people served by the Warrnambool – Melbourne line. I welcome the Coalition announcement but call on Labor to match that commitment," Cr Lyons said.

"People who live west of Geelong deserve to have regular and reliable public transport access to health, education and other key services which are only available in Geelong and Melbourne.

"Five services a day is not an unreasonable request. For the benefits the increased services would bring to people living along that Warrnambool – Geelong rail corridor it would be an excellent economic and social investment."

Cr O'Connor said additional services would help improve accessibility to Geelong and Melbourne and would also help to connect regional communities with one another.

"The Great South Coast region, particularly Warrnambool and Camperdown, will see an increase in population growth due to significant expansion to the agricultural and dairy sectors over the next decade," Cr O'Connor said

"These extra services will open up new opportunities for commuting, education and for business," he said.

The mayors from councils along the Geelong to Warrnambool line will meet at the Colac railway station this Saturday, demanding that candidates for the electorates of South West Coast, Polwarth, South Barwon, Bellarine and Geelong pledge support for increased services to at least match the Coalition.

Photographic opportunity

Who: Mayors from G21 and Great South Coast Councils and invitations have been issued to electoral candidates for the electorates of Polwarth, South West Coast, South Barwon and Geelong.

What: Invitation to Labor candidates to sign a "pledge card", promising support for additional passenger rail services between Warrnambool and Geelong.

Where: Colac Railway Station, Gellibrand Street, Colac

When: Saturday 22 November, 9.30am



Media information:

Great South Coast Executive Officer, Karen Foster, 0407 312 836

G21 CEO, Elaine Carbines, (03) 5227 4000 or 0437 202 300

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