Victoria Deputy Premier Peter Ryan
Regional Growth Fund Upgrades South Gippsland Tourist Railway
Victor P Taffa
Victoria’s longest tourist railway, between Korumburra and Leongatha stations, will be upgraded thanks to an $115,000 investment from the Victorian Coalition Government’s $1 Billion Regional Growth Fund.
In Korumburra to announce funding for the $177,000 project, Deputy Premier and Gippsland South MP Peter Ryan said the project would deliver a better experience for tourists.
Mr. Ryan said the works would be carried out by the South Gippsland Tourist Railway and would include the insertion of 100 second-hand sleepers, interpretive and directional signage and an upgrade to the pedestrian underpass at Korumburra Station.
“The South Gippsland Tourist Railway maintains trains over a 36-kilometre section of the main line from Nyora to Leongatha, which is the longest tourist railway in Victoria and an excellent tourist attraction.” Mr. Ryan said.
“This work done as part of this project will help reduce ongoing maintenance costs and allow trains to maintain the maximum 40km/h allowed for tourist railways.”
“An expected increase in visitors will bring the natural flow-on benefits to the local community including a boost to local businesses and the potential for job creation.”
Mr. Ryan said the South Gippsland Tourist Railway was contributing more than $52,000 in cash and in-kind support, while South Gippsland Shire Council was also investing $10,000.
Mr. Ryan said that when regional and rural Victoria does well, the entire state does well.
“The Regional Growth Fund supports community-led local initiatives such as this that will provide a tourism boost to regional and rural Victoria, and boost local economies.” Mr. Ryan said.
“In South Gippsland Shire, the Regional Growth Fund has provided $11.2 Million to 28 projects, leveraging a total of $55.3 Million. This includes $2 Million for the Great Southern Rail Trail Extension and nearly $2 Million to Burra Foods to expand its milk powder division.”
Mr. Ryan said the project was expected to be completed in the middle of 2014.
This stance by the Napthine Victoria Government is in complete contrast with that of the O’Farrell New South Wales Government on the matter of supporting Tourist Railways. The Tourist Zig Zag Railway has been forced to close due to a lack of support from the New South Wales Government, a lack of trained staff to operate services and excessive regulation. The Zig Zag Railway was originally the main line over the Blue Mountains.
Given the New South Wales Government’s obsession to close down the Newcastle Heavy Railway Line and convert the Sydney Metropolitan Rail Network to Metro Rail it comes as no surprise that the Zig Zag Railway closed down.
Transport Bureaucrats who are obsessed with Metro Rail are to blame as both the Former Labor and current Liberal/National Governments blindly follow the mantra of Transport Bureaucrats.
Metro Rail for Sydney is powered by a third live rail and has less electrical capacity as the existing Heavy Rail Network. Melbourne’s Metropolitan trains are branded as Metro however they are a Heavy Railways.
Given Sydney’s topography and size Heavy Rail was chosen over Metro Rail by John Bradfield. John Bradfield designed and built the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Metropolitan Railways in the 1920’s.
To convert the Heavy Rail Lines in Sydney to Metro Rail such as the Bankstown, Epping-Chatswood and Illawarra Lines will be expensive and very disruptive to commuters. The alternative is to build additional Heavy Rail tracks in these Rail corridors to separate all-stations trains from express services.
The Epping-Chatswood Line forms part of the North West Line that is currently under construction. The new North West Line should also be a Heavy Rail Line so it can connect with the Richmond Line. The Sydney Harbour Rail Tunnel that is being planned should also be a Heavy Rail Tunnel instead of a Metro Rail Tunnel. This project should not however include demolition of the Woolworth’s Town Hall Store.
The Rail Tunnel between England and France is a Heavy Rail Tunnel.
Instead of building Metro Rail for Sydney new Heavy Rail Lines should be built to new suburbs and increase the ability of the Rail Network to cope with an ever increasing demand for reliable rail services now and into the future. Laying additional tracks in existing rail corridors also increases the ability of the rail network to provide services to commuters.