I call on the Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional Development, Peter Ryan who is the Legislative Assembly Member for Gippsland South to provide clarity on his stance about the issue of reopening the South Gippsland railway line to Leongatha.
Over the past few months, he has denied that he had no influence on the mothballing of the line beyond Cranbourne since April 1998, the withdrawal of the Leongatha passenger train on July 24, 1993 and dismantling of the tracks at Koo Wee Rup in March 2012 and beyond Leongatha to Barry Beach and Yarram throughout 1994 despite the fact that he was elected to the seat back on October 3, 1992.
Mr Ryan is correct to point out that Victorian Labor should be held accountable for abandoning their promise to reopen the line from 1999 until 2008; however, he has remained reluctant to explain why he does not endorse the return of rail despite his criticism.
On the numerous times that I have emailed Mr Ryan and Public Transport Victoria about this issue, they state that reopening the line at an estimated cost of $72 million would be ‘prohibitive’, however, that contradicts the findings of the previous Feasibility Report conducted by TransNet Logistics on behalf of the John Brumby Victorian Labor Government in May 2007, that highlighted on numerous occasions that it was a ‘feasible’ proposition.
Perhaps the electorate of Gippsland South has once again been misled about public transport and infrastructure reform and need to make an informed decision about this issue at the upcoming state election that has the potential to shape the region’s future.
The Deputy Premier needs not to just explain his stance on this issue and take it to the upcoming state election, but why it still has not got a higher priority in comparison to road infrastructure and transport projects and upgrades that require the railway line to be reopened given the unacceptable state that they have been in ever since the Leongatha line’s closure.
South Gippsland needs trains, not more buses, Mr Ryan, as the patronage justifies it!
Chris Cantlon via email.