Road and rail are squarely on the agenda for Ballarat’s election narrative, with state opposition leader Matthew Guy flagging the potential movement of V/Line headquarters to the city last night.
Speaking at the Committee for Ballarat’s round table dinner on Thursday night, Mr Guy said he wanted to see Ballarat become the “transport capital” of Victoria again.
He said that he would look to fund stage two of the Ballarat Link Road – a $80 million commitment to connect the Western Freeway to the Glenelg Freeway in the city’s west – if he was elected.
“It’s about time we located some of those major services in places where they are relevant. VicRoads is relevant for Ballarat, V/Line is a natural fit next,” Mr Guy said.
“We should consider moving V/Line headquarters to Ballarat as well, so that we reclaim that transport edge.”
Mr Guy did not reveal how many V/Line jobs could be placed in Ballarat, or how quickly the relocation would happen if he was elected on November 24.
In 2015, the Victorian Liberals committed to move VicRoads in its entirety to Ballarat, to be based out of the GovHub building at the Civic Hall precinct.
Mr Guy also stated that any government he leads will be “absolutely committed to a 59 minute or better service” to Melbourne from Ballarat.
“You should not have a service to Ballarat, any service, which is an extension for commuters to Melbourne,” he said.
“With reasonable investments on existing wheel on rail rolling stock from what you have, and a longer term plan for proper duplication it can be done.”
It follows a staunch ‘59-Minute Ballarat’ campaign by the Committee for Ballarat to see at least one peak hour express to Southern Cross bypassing Ballan and Bacchus Marsh, as well as growth suburbs Melton and Caroline Springs.
Committee for Ballarat is hoping for $1.2 billion investment for the electrification and quadrification of the rail line between Sunshine and Melton, to make Melton part of the metro train network to make the express service under an hour a reality.
Mr Guy also committed $5.6 million to upgrade bus services from Ballarat to Horsham, and to Hamilton.