Council seeks meeting about Stawell station

STAWELL - Northern Grampians Shire Council will seek a meeting with V/Line and other relevant authorities to discuss the provision of amenities at the Stawell Railway Station.

The meeting was proposed as a matter of urgent business at Monday night's council meeting in St Arnaud to address community concerns about the lack of access to a public toilet and infrequent maintenance on-site.

Council resolved that a meeting with relevant authorities would be the most efficient and effective way to demonstrate the concerns and ensure a resolution, which it hopes will be achieved by Easter.

Mayor Cr, Kevin Erwin said the issues have been concerning the community for some time and that the meeting would be arranged as soon as possible.

"The community in general have talked about the condition of the railway station, there doesn't seem to appear to be a normal regime of keeping the surrounds clean and there has been a number of complaints over the years about travellers not being able to access the toilet on site," he said.

"I think it is about time we had a meeting with the relevant authorities to discuss these matters on site."

The meeting is being pursued as part of council's ongoing advocacy role around public transport which has been a focus for several years.

The current Council Plan specifically lists 'advocating for accessible and affordable transport options for residents and visitors' as a priority.

"This isn't a knee-jerk reaction, this has come from the general community and it took a while to get that station refurbished and to get the Overland to stop here," Cr Erwin said.

"It is disappointing to see that things might drop back, because there are a lot of bus movements there."

Cr Erwin said with the Ararat station ticketing about 46,000 patrons a year, Stawell must not be far behind.

"That is still a significant amount, so not only the locals, but also those visitors to the town deserve a clean surrounds and the ability to actually access a toilet," he said.

Cr Wayne Rice spoke in support of the proposed meeting and Stawell bus company Sandlants' intentions to upgrade the Stawell Town Bus Service.

The bus company has lodged an application with Public Transport Victoria (PTV) for an expansion of the service to take in additional routes and stops.

The application is currently under consideration by PTV.

"That would mean 20 times a day the Stawell town bus would go through the Stawell railway station, that's not including all the other buses that pass through the station," Cr Rice said.

"If that is not enough to convince someone that you need a toilet, and a decent respectable toilet then I don't know what it is going to take to convince someone."

Nine independent bus companies work in and out of the Stawell station every year with a total of 126 stops at the station per week.

This totals 6,574 stops per year and equates to an average stops per day, 365 days of the year of at least 18.

Cr Murray Emerson said it is estimated that at least 30,000 people patronise the Stawell station every year, but that could be as high as 60,000.

"Even if it was 30,000 people getting on and off at our railway station, it is a darn lot and something must be done about it," he said.

Currently upon their arrival public transport users are advised to go to the Visitor Information Centre in Main Street for help with timetables and maps.

The Stawell ticket office was closed in November 2011. V/line country rail and bus tickets are available for purchase in Stawell at Roswin Milk Bar in Lower Main Street.

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