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Tuesday, 27 October 2020
Page: 80


Mr DRUM (NichollsChief Nationals Whip) (16:27): I would like to say how proud I am to be the member for Nicholls, under this Nationals government, and to be given this opportunity to deliver $320 million, for the people of Nicholls, for stage 3 of the Shepparton rail line upgrade. The Victorian government is going to contribute $80 million to this $400 million stage 3 project. Stage 3 will hopefully see, when it's completed, up to nine velocity services per week, travelling at 130 kilometres per hour, which should reduce travel time to under two hours.

I've been working on this since 2016. I've been working closely with local government and the broader community to deliver this efficient, modern, reliable passenger service for the region. In 2017 I spoke about how the passenger services into Shepparton from Melbourne had been completely neglected by the Victorian state Labor government. In that period of time, we'd seen hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars, spent on velocity services to Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo, while the whole region around the Goulburn Valley had been totally left behind.

We've hosted ministers, we've had conferences with the City of Greater Shepparton, with the Committee for Greater Shepparton, with CEOs and with the mayors of the regions to specifically address the inferior passenger rail service to Shepparton. Their unified calls have been heard. Finally, we've had some action over the last few years. The state government contributed $33 million—that was a good start—and there were some capital work upgrades. In 2018 the state government committed just over $300 million for signalling and track upgrades on this line, to make sure the Shepparton to Seymour line was able to cope with these speeds. We have had level-crossings between Shepparton and Seymour completed, and platform extensions done in Shepparton, Mooroopna, Murchison East and Nagambie. We've also had greater amenity at the Shepparton line for stabling, which is very, very important.

Connectivity with Melbourne is absolutely critical. Melbourne is a great city, one of the greatest cities in the world, but, until now, Shepparton has been totally left out from connecting to this amazing capital city of Victoria. Hopefully now this project will be completed and we will get to see up to nine VLocity services every day to and from Shepparton and Melbourne. Once our services hit the metropolitan sprawl at Broadmeadows, we still need to find a way to get through that metropolitan system so that we can get straight through to the CBD. There is an opportunity if the Victorian government is prepared to build a designated tunnel as part of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link. The federal government is stumping up the money for the Victorian government to build the Melbourne Airport Rail Link properly, and they need to do so.