Helen Haines has welcomed the decision by the Australian Rail Track Corporation to listen to the community of Benalla on the inland rail project, with the option for track realignment and a second platform at Benalla on the table for the next stage of consultation.
The Independent Federal Member for Indi has been working closely with the town of Benalla, as well as Euroa, Glenrowan and Wangaratta, to ensure the best outcomes for each town on the inland rail project.
On Monday the ARTC gave the proposed design visualisations to the Benalla Working Group, showing realigning the track and building a second platform was one of two options, with the other option being the expanded overpass.
“I am cautiously optimistic about this latest development on the inland rail project,” Dr Haines said.
“This seems to show the ARTC is listening to the people of Benalla. After being told relocating the track would never happen, the option is now on the table and we can talk about how best to make it a reality.”
The North East leg of the federal government’s $15.4 billion Better Rail project requires major infrastructure works to for allow taller and heavier double-stacked trains to run on the North East line.
There has been deep concern in towns in Indi along the rail line about what the works would mean for their towns, with strong opposition to large new overpasses to accommodate the double-stacked trains.
“I have worked with the people of Benalla every step of the way on this journey, advocating for transparency and a proper commitment to community consultation and the best outcome,” Dr Haines said.
“It now appears the ARTC is listening and I hope this signals a new phase in the inland rail journey in the North East. The towns of Euroa, Glenrowan and Wangaratta are watching these developments closely in the hope that their wishes will also be taken into account.”
Former deputy prime minister Michael McCormack visited towns in Indi affected by inland rail at the invitation of Dr Haines and it was only last month Dr Haines wrote to new Deputy
Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce inviting him to Indi to ensure he properly understood the needs of towns along the rail line.
Communities along the rail line are energised to keep consulting with the ARTC on what inland rail means for their towns.
“This is in no way the end of the line for the inland rail project in Benalla,” Dr Haines said.
“The ARTC needs to take the overpass off the table, to open up the area around the station in Benalla.
“I will continue to work with the town of Benalla to ensure the ARTC listens to locals, and to make sure the best option is reached for all the towns in Indi affected by the inland rail project.”