Group rallies for trains between Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong

A RALLY supporting the re-introduction of passenger trains between Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong will be held next week. 

The rally follows a Public Transport Victoria study earlier this year, which estimated the project could cost between $760 million and $935 million.

However, Rail Revival Alliance committee member Noel Laidlaw said the report effectively “gold-plated” the project. 

“I reckon we can do it for between $80 to $100 million,” Mr Laidlaw said.

He said he would be happy if at least 100 people attended the rally on December 8 at 2pm at the Carisbrook Train Station.

Benefits of the reintroduction of the services would be far-reaching, according to Mr Laidlaw, who said it would create a “huge boost” for smaller towns situated along the rail lines. 

“It has different aspects all the way along the line; it isn’t just about the people that could jump on a train in Bendigo and travel to Geelong,” he said. 

Mr Laidlaw said people who would be able to travel to further universities and hospitals would also benefit from the service. 

Some of the claims of projected over-spending claimed by Mr Laidlaw include the aim to have the train travel at 160km/h and spending more than $200 million on works between Castlemaine and Bendigo. 

The alliance, which started as a Facebook group of concerned residents, believes the speed of the train exceeds what is currently needed by the community and creates unnecessary costs. 

In response to the original PTV study, the alliance has produced its own study into the project, which Mr Laidlaw, who is a engineer, gave to PTV in late August. 

A spokesperson from PTV said Mr Laidlaw’s proposal had been received and was currently being assessed and reviewed.

matthew.dixon@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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