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Author Topic: Article: Geelong-Ballarat-Bendigo train ride aims to revive regional rail  (Read 1106 times)

Offline ozbob

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Melbourne Age --> Geelong-Ballarat-Bendigo train ride aims to revive regional rail

The railway line between Maryborough and Castlemaine turns 140 this year and parts of it look every day of it. Decaying sleepers better suited to firewood than fast trains, flood-wracked foundations and rusted rail bridges pockmark the 55-kilometre line, which has been fallow for the past 10 years.

On Sunday a gang of 50 rail enthusiasts will pay homage to the derelict line, and have hired a heritage diesel train to ride from Melbourne to Maryborough on a cross-country route via Geelong and Ballarat.

The meandering joy ride is a celebration of rail heritage with a political message many in Spring Street would prefer not to hear.

The four-hour journey is meant to demonstrate that those quiet regional rail lines are fit for the return of passenger trains, just like the Coalition promised it would plan for at the last election.

From opposition the Coalition thundered that it was “unacceptable” that Victoria’s three largest regional cities, with a combined population of more than 400,000, had no direct rail connections.

Its promise to “plan for the return of passenger trains between Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo on a cross-country route via Meredith, Maryborough and Castlemaine” resulted in a $2 million feasibility study that found doing so would cost up to $935 million and made no economic sense.

But some in the regions refused to give up on the idea and are at pains to point out that excluding the Maryborough-Castlemaine leg, the rail lines at issue are currently used by V/Line and/or freight trains every day. The Geelong-Ballarat line was closed to passenger trains by the former Kennett government and currently has an 80 km/h speed limit for freight trains.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/geelongballaratbendigo-train-ride-aims-to-revive-regional-rail-20140704-zsvnq.html

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