A REGIONAL rail lobby group has welcomed the opening of the new $2.5 million Talbot railway station but says it is just “one piece in the jigsaw”.
Public Transport minister Terry Mulder yesterday opened the station and welcomed the first train from Maryborough at 8.18am.
Mr Mulder said the new station would provide an important public transport connection, returning trains to the town for the first time in more than 20 years.
“Locals and visitors now have an additional mode of transport, with a daily train to Ballarat, Southern Cross or Maryborough,” he said.
Rail Revival Alliance committee member Noel Laidlaw attended the opening and said there were a lot of Talbot locals pleased with the new station.
“We had a couple of Talbotians say on Monday morning they were going down to Ballarat to do some shopping, which is great,” he said.
“However it’s only a little bit of the jigsaw, there’s a lot more of the jigsaw to come.”
The Rail Revival Alliance has been pushing for the reintroduction of rail passenger services between Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong, saying it would provide a big boost to regional Victoria.
Earlier this year a Public Transport Victoria study was released putting the cost of such a project between $760 million and $935 million.
An engineer himself, Mr Laidlaw believes the cost could be much lower and has asked the state government consider his costings which are closer to $100 million.
“We want a response from the state government, they said they will give us a response to the engineering report,” he said.
Mr Laidlaw said the success of regional rail and the number of people it attracts is evidence of the importance of rail.
“It shows that if you put on decent public transport, people will use it,” he said.
Member for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay said a free trial mini bus route would run between Lexton and Talbot for six months, connecting with trains.
The morning train is timetabled so that students and employees travelling to Ballarat during the week arrive before 9am.