Northern Grampians Shire mayor Tony Driscoll has urged the state government to use some of its windfall from the Snowy Mountains Scheme buyout to help restore passenger rail to Stawell and western Victoria.
Federal Mallee MP Andrew Broad has also called on the government to invest the money into regional passenger rail for Stawell and Horsham.
Stawell’s passenger rail ended with the closure of the V/Line Dimboola rail service in 1993.
The federal government will pay Victoria $2 billion for its share of the landmark hydro-electrical project as part of Prime Minister’s Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to secure electricity supplies with a ‘Snowy 2.0’ expansion.
Mr Broad said he had written a letter to Victorian Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan with his ideas on how to spend the money.
“I’m asking the state government to immediately commence a business case to see passenger rail services between Horsham and Stawell through Melbourne via Ararat and Ballarat, working with the federal government to cover the construction costs,” he said.
“This would have an immeasurable benefit to residents of Horsham and Stawell, opening up better health outcomes for those who need to travel to the city for specialist treatments.
“The proposal would also provide employment, assist with isolation and lift tourism across Horsham and Stawell.”
Mr Broad said he was waiting on a response.
Cr Driscoll said he supported Mr Broad’s proposal and pointed to a previous feasibility study by the Western Rail campaign group of western Victoria municipalities.
“We now need a business case to be funded to make that proposition come to fruition. We would like to see the government give some consideration,” he said.
Cr Driscoll said passenger rail would bring jobs and tourism to Northern Grampians as region had benefited directly from passenger rail when there were special trains to bring patrons to the Stawell Gift.
“There are tourism opportunities coming out of Melbourne with the Grampians Peaks Trail and Halls Gap,” he said.
“Going the other way, our people can go for medical services.
“I think there is a two-way effect in bringing people into the region and gaining access to regional centres.”