By Luke Voogt
Geelong has until Friday to bring a Melbourne-bound fast train one step closer to reality, according to local Federal MP Sarah Henderson.
Ms Henderson urged the State Government and the private sector to apply for Commonwealth money to fund a business case for a Geelong fast rail.
“A fast train between Melbourne and Geelong is critical for our region’s future growth,” the Member for Corangamite said.
The Turnbull Government recently announced $20 million to fund the development of business cases for fast rail connections between cities and regional areas.
Applicants had until 5pm Friday to submit proposals to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.
The Victorian Government was considering an application for a Geelong to Melbourne fast rail, a government source said on Wednesday.
The Federal Government would select the best proposals from three regional cities around Australia, Ms Henderson said.
“Geelong needs to be one of them.”
Ms Henderson resumed her political feud with the State Government by claiming the recent $110m for the South Geelong to Waurn Ponds duplication as the Commonwealth’s win.
“Over a number of years, I have fought very hard for better passenger rail,” she said.“Labor’s Regional Rail Link, which services western Melbourne, has become a white elephant. It is already at capacity, and on many services is a case of standing room only.”
But Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan claimed the funding was the State Government’s due.
“We’re proud to have won the fight with the Turnbull Government to get the vital regional rail funding Victoria was owed, and we’re getting on with delivering those improvements,” she said.
“In less than three years we’ve added nearly 300 new services for Geelong and ordered 87 new carriages to … carry more passengers across Victoria.”
Ms Henderson’s calls were empty “rhetoric”, according Corio MP Richard Marles’ office, which accused the Turnbull Government of derailing Victoria’s infrastructure.
The Federal Government denied Victorians $3 billion in infrastructure over the next four years, a spokesperson said as Mr Marles visited the US as shadow defence minister this week.
“Victorians pay their taxes, yet this government sees fit to only provide 12 per cent of its budget to Victoria,” the spokesperson said.
“A state which is home to a quarter of Australia’s population.”
Last year lobby group Rail Futures proposed a plan for 200km/h trains and 35 minute services from Geelong to Melbourne.
Meanwhile, punctuality on the Geelong line improved in September, with 87.2 per cent of services arriving at their destination on time – up 1.2 per cent from August.
A new timetable introduced 69 extra services to the Geelong line on 27 August.