Time to sort out the rail gauge mess history has left us

Time to sort out the gauge mess

While work progresses  on passenger broad gauge rail the ongoing problem of standard  which carries much of the freight is yet to be worked out

While work progresses on passenger broad gauge rail the ongoing problem of standard which carries much of the freight is yet to be worked out

Recently the State and Federal Government announced a major project to standardise the rail track in Western Victoria. This was a most welcome decision. However, this means that the major regional centres of Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton and Swan Hill will not be connected to the National Standard Gauge system. When will the Federal and State Governments announce that these major regional cities are connected to the Standard Gauge System? On a recent visit to Victoria, I observed there had been new concrete sleepers laid on some of the broad gauge train lines connecting these cities, but none of the new sleepers were made gauge convertible so that when inevitably these cities are connected to the standard gauge system, these broad gauge-only concrete sleepers will have to be replaced at considerable extra cost. At the very least, the Victorian Government should not replace broad gauge sleepers with concrete sleepers unless they are made gauge convertible. Gauge convertible sleepers mean a further clip is inserted on the sleeper so that in the future a rail from the broad gauge clip can be moved to the standard gauge clip at minimal cost without the need for a completely new concrete sleeper.

The people of Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton and Swan Hill should demand a date from the State and Federal Governments of when the broad gauge to these regional cities and surrounding areas will be converted to standard gauge. They should insist that all new concrete sleepers on the existing broad gauge tracks be made gauge convertible. 

Chris Schacht, former SA Senator, Transport and Infrastructure Committee member.

Ac/Dc memories linger on

recall attending a 'party' back in the late 70's early 80's out at Buninyong; this particular one more so than the others. ACDC were in town that night playing at the Civic Hall. As usual on a Saturday night someone had a party going somewhere so we all went out to this one at Buninyong. It turns out the 'host a local musician' was a good friend of Malcolm Young and the band, and who would you guess turned up later on, but the guys from ACDC. Well things got very lively to say the least, guitars were plugged into amps and away we went. Yes, the joint was raided quite a few times by the boys in blue but it was all great, clean fun; ah sort of. I think I went home Sunday or was it Monday, probably more like the following week. Always remember this moment, there were lots of people coming and going. Also I recall a Ballarat drummer played with ACDC for a brief time before they started touring. RIP Malcolm Young.

Robert Goon, Sebastopol

Poor choices with taxpayer money

Geoff Howard (Letters 21 Nov) tells us that it is a good thing that our neglected heritage goods shed at Ballarat Station is being saved by his government. He is right. But what he doesn't tell us is that they are investing $15m of taxpayer funds into its restoration, then selling it and all the land around it for $5m to $6million. That is just plain dumb. The SOS alternative plan would have seen the building restored and used for a bus interchange, and the site made fully accessible for people with disabilities affecting their mobility. We, the public, would continue to own the heritage goods shed and the land. The construction and ongoing jobs from our proposal would be similar to the government's.

The $5m for the bus interchange won't be anywhere near enough or how much extra they will need to find to make the station accessible for people with mobility challenges. It's hard to get excited about a project that is so piecemeal, so ill-directed, and so inadequate in every way. This own-goal by Labor is marking Geoff's legacy down, and condemning his successor to bear its electoral fruits.

John Barnes, SOS Ballarat.