An advocacy campaign to bring passenger rail services back to western Victoria was launched at Stawell on Tuesday.
Western Rail supports the findings of the Grampians Barwon South West Passenger Services cost and feasibility study, developed by eight Victorian councils earlier this year, aiming to reinstate reliable and frequent passenger rail services to the west of the state.
Northern Grampians Shire Council is on board, joining forces with neighbouring shires to advocate for the return of passenger rail to the area.
Mayor Cr Tony Driscoll said the group behind the project had been heartened by the recent announcement of state government funding for regional rail.
“The Victorian government’s demonstrated commitment to strengthening regional rail connections is welcome news to the Northern Grampians Shire Council,” he said.
“Not only will this provide increased opportunities for our residents to access increased employment, educational, social and medical opportunities, but it also represents vastly increased tourism opportunities for the Stawell and Halls Gap communities in particular.”
A website dedicated to the project was also launched, along with an associated Facebook page.
Cr Driscoll urged residents to make use of both resources to show their support for the initiative.
“This is a cause which could have untold benefits for our region, particularly in an increasingly difficult period for regional Victorians, so I’d like to think that all residents, not just from the NGSC, but right across the area, would lend us their support,” he said.
In addition to the return of passenger rail, the report also found significant opportunity to improve timetabling and quality of coach services to enhance community access, reduce travel times and provide tourism opportunities.
The report’s findings also showed opportunity to improve connecting people from the Wimmera and Central Highlands to the coast and cities like Horsham, Hamilton, Ararat and Ballarat to south-east South Australia.
More information on Western Rail can be found at westernrail.com.au.