The Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack on Monday committed to working with community, State Government and Helen Haines MP on the Better Rail project.

But he declined to say if the Government would provide funding to allow Glenrowan, Benalla and Euroa townships improve the amenity and accessibility of their railway precincts.

In Question Time on Monday, the Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines asked the Deputy Prime Minister if the Government would commit additional funding to the ARTC, the entity responsible for the Better Rail, for carrying out amenity and accessibility works.

“I’m thrilled that the Deputy Prime Minister said he was willing to work with myself, the community and the Victorian State Government. As he said, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Dr Haines said.

“But in meetings I’ve had with the ARTC, I’ve been told that some of the upgrades sought by communities are beyond ARTC’s scope and budget.

“The ARTC is a 100% owned Government entity. The Government has the power to increase funding to allow the ARTC to see our communities’ plans come to life.

“To limit the scope of the Better Rail project when such extraordinary amounts have been spent to jump-start our economy after COVID seems to be missing a huge opportunity.

“With Better Rail fast-tracked and the North East Rail Line upgrade progressing ahead of schedule, the Government could allocate surplus funding to these works.

“I’ve met extensively with local councils and community interest groups from Euroa, Benalla, Glenrowan and Wangaratta. They are all united behind this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve these railway precincts and leave a lasting legacy”.

“I’ll keep fighting for more funding to be allocated to see these works take place”.

Dr Haines confirmed she had invited the Deputy Prime Minister to visit Indi to inspect the Better Rail project in 2021.

“I’m really looking forward to hosting him early next year so that he can see first-hand the legacy this project could leave, if we work together to achieve railway precincts in our towns that we can all be proud of.

“I have great confidence that the Deputy Prime Minister will understand that.”

The Tottenham to Albury section of the Better Rail encompasses Indi and involves works to accommodate double-stacked freight trains. Construction will take place between November 2021 and March 2024.

Watch the question and response: /media/question-time-will-the-inland-rail-receive-the-funding-it-needs 

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