Leongatha Rail Review Announced
4th April 2000


DATE: Tuesday, April 4, 2000


The latest plank in the Bracks Government's Linking Victoria program has
commenced with the establishment of a Community Reference Group to help
review the options for returning rail services between Leongatha and Melbourne.

The Minister for Transport, Mr Peter Batchelor, said the Government was meeting
its commitment to the people of Gippsland to review the Kennett Government's
closure of the Leongatha passenger rail service in 1993.

"The Leongatha Rail Review will assess the performance of coach services that have
replaced the passenger trains. It will also investigate the impact on the local economy
and the commercial feasibility of returning a passenger service on the line," said Mr Batchelor.

"The review will also consider the future of rail freight services and tourist trains on the
Leongatha line." Mr Batchelor has sent letters to the Member for Gippsland West,
Ms Susan Davies, and the South Gippsland Shire Council inviting them to take part in
the Community Reference Group that will also include representatives from the Department
of Infrastructure and the Department of State and Regional Development. Rail operators,
Freight Australia and National Express, as well as local community interest groups will also
be consulted as part of the review.

"The Government is currently in discussions with the South Gippsland Shire Council about
a possible freight terminal in the area and I have invited the council to provide details of any
other industry groups that may also be interested in taking part in the rail review,"
said Mr Batchelor.

Leongatha is one of five country rail services closed by the Kennett Government that are now
being reviewed. The other services are on the Mildura, Ararat, Bairnsdale and Cobram lines.

"The Bracks Government wants to strengthen the ties between Melbourne and regional Victoria
and generate new opportunities for the growth and development of the State's regional and rural
areas," said Mr Batchelor.

"Through Linking Victoria, the Government plans to work with the private sector to invest more
than $1.5billion in the State's roads, rail and ports over the next four years."

"The potential reopening of the Leongatha rail line for freight would open new opportunities for
transporting products from the region's building sands, horticultural and timber industries."

Mr Batchelor praised local MP Susan Davies for her work in campaigning for a return of rail
services to this important region of Victoria. He said the Kennett Government had failed to
understand the importance of high quality transport services to regional communities.

"The Leongatha Rail Review will include consideration of tourism initiatives such as the running
of steam trains on the line," said Mr Batchelor.

A report on the Leongatha Rail Review is expected to be presented to the Government by July 2000.

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