OCTOBER 22, 2021
The Australian Rail Track Corporation must listen to the town of Euroa in the same way it has listened to Benalla, said Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines.
The ARTC announced this week it would re-align the rail tracks at Benalla to accommodate double stacked freight trains as part of the Better Rail project, ditching the original plan of replacing the Mackellar Street bridge with a larger bridge.
Re-aligning the railway track, demolishing the Mackellar Street overpass and redeveloping the entire station precinct for greater safety, accessibility and amenity was a proposal put to the ARTC by the community, many of whom had concerns about a new, taller bridge.
Dr Haines said the announcement showed that two years of community campaigning had paid off for Benalla and should energise the Euroa community that they too can secure a similar outcome.
While this is a positive development, Dr Haines said there is more to be done to ensure Benalla and Euroa get the best results in the inland rail developments.
“When I first started meeting with the ARTC two years ago, they told me their road bridge proposal for Benalla was a done deal, and the community proposal would be too expensive and could never happen,” Dr Haines said.
“Community pressure worked in Benalla and it can work in Euroa too.”
In March, Dr Haines hosted the former Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack in Indi so he could hear directly from the community. And last month, she invited the new Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce to visit for the same purpose.
“I’ve been persistent in making the case to Government that they have to deliver community-backed options for Benalla and Euroa, they cannot simply come into our community and force things onto us,” Dr Haines said.
“That advocacy to Government has worked, and I’m so pleased that, as an Independent MP, I have had the freedom to take the fight to Government rather than being muzzled by party politics. We had a win today for Benalla but the campaign continues in Euroa”.
Dr Haines encouraged all residents of Euroa to participate in the ARTC’s community consultation process to share their views on the two draft design options for the Anderson Street bridge.