Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said regional Victoria is being hoodwinked about rail services by the Andrews Labor Government in general and Jacinta Allan in particular.
And he is demanding regional Victoria be given an exact date for when the work on upgrading the Echuca-Bendigo line will really start.
Mr Walsh said Ms Allan, the Minister for Empty Promises, has been promising regional Victoria a $300 million investment on its railways for the past three years – “and no-one has seen a penny of it”.
“And now she is back in the Riverine Herald today, once again promising bazillions of dollars for all sorts of upgrades and improvements,” he said.
“But no promise of any start date, no proof anything is being done, and in her letter to the editor she claims ‘we listen to the community … we said we would repair the damage … and we are’.
“I don’t know what lines Ms Allan thinks are being repaired, but the Echuca-Bendigo line is definitely not one of them. For her to go into print and say ‘we’re not wasting a minute in
delivering better train services for the communities of Bendigo and Echuca’ is an insult to the people in all the towns along the line between the two hubs.
“Ms Allan is not wasting a minute, she is, and has been, wasting years.”
Mr Walsh said he had looked for any evidence of the millions, even hundreds of millions, of dollars Ms Allan has been promising but cannot find any sign of them.
He said in April 2017 the Andrews Labor Government announced a $91 million spend on the Echuca-Bendigo line so it could go at 130km/h instead of the current 80km/h.
Then in May 2017 a $3 billion deal was announced between Canberra and the Andrews Labor Government for regional rail improvements, including the Echuca-Bendigo line.
“The Minister for Empty Promises, pretending to be Victorian Transport Minister, said at the time “it’s the next step of our regional rail revival, investing in the public transport that regional Victorians deserve and can rely on’.
“In July 2018 we heard from them again that regional passenger rail services on the Bendigo/Echuca line were set to become quicker and more reliable. Construction works were set to begin in late 2018.
“And the trains still run slow because nothing has been done and the track is not safe enough,” Mr Walsh added.
“In October 2019 they were back, saying two consortia had been shortlisted to deliver signalling works as part of the Bendigo and Echuca line upgrade.
“And the trains still run slow because the track is not safe enough.
“On the sixth of this month the Minister for Empty Promises magically reappeared with another bag of mythical cash – you won’t believe it but it was $300 million – assuring us all the Echuca-Bendigo line was set to benefit from ‘faster and more frequent train services as part of a $300 million regional rail funding boost’.
“Now she is back today with, yes, you guessed it, another $300 million (but don’t be fooled, it is the same bag of money going nowhere).
“Seriously Jacinta. Three years of hot air and empty promises is enough. Give us a location, a date and a time and we will meet you there to see the work actually start.”