Deputy PM opens door to further Murray rail funding

Deputy PM promises to "look at" further funding for MBRP

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RAIL FUNDING: Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has hinted at further federal funding for the Murray Basin Rail Project.

RAIL FUNDING: Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has hinted at further federal funding for the Murray Basin Rail Project.

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McCormack critical of bipartisanship over troubled Murray Basin Rail.

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The federal government has left the door open for further funding for the troubled Murray Basin Rail Project.

In December last year, the government announced an additional $200.2 million for the Murray Basin Freight Rail Network, including $195.2 million for the most extensive package of works ever recommended.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack told a pre-budget lunch, at the Rural Press Club of Victoria the funding should show the Victorian government federal authorities were serious.

"To do the line, as some would like to have it done, is going to cost more than $1 billion," Mr McCormack said.

"Well, if that's the case we will certainly look to that.

"The Australian government is listening to stakeholders and is investing in works to improve the reliability and efficiency of rail lines for this most important network.

"It's been a bugbear for those people in Maryborough, Murrayville, Manangatang, Arara and Mildura - wherever you might happen to be.

"It's been a real issue and we want to make sure we have the right rail network, to support those wheat farmers."

He said the federal government had not had the right level of bipartisanship from its Victorian colleagues.

"Over the years, we have had a rolling infrastructure package and program," he said.

"We have made sure once we get something done, we look at the next phase of that particular project and make sure we put the right infrastructure in place."

.Read more:Government fails to clarify claims on rail standardisation

"We have put $5 million for planning and asked the state government to partner up, write a cheque, so we can get on with that important work, so we can get the right planning and business case done," Mr McCormack said.

"We know it's going to work, we know it's got to happen.'

He said there was reluctance from the state government, with Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan saying "you might need a to get another government," if the project was to be completed as originally planned.

"That's a sure sign to the voters as to what to do at the next election."

State government responds

A state government spokeswoman said it knew how important the MBRP was for farmers, freight operators and regional communities.

"That's why we're getting on with the revised package of works which will reduce cycle times and move freight more efficiently," the spokeswoman said.

"We're investing in what industry told us were key priorities for the network - speed, reliability, axle load and more paths.

"These works will deliver tangible benefits - waiting for yet another business case does not."

The spokeswoman said the government would not play politics, on delivering the projects regional Victoria needed.

"We will never take regional Victorians for granted," she said.

A recent review of the business case found significant improvement to the network could be achieved through enhancements to the current broad and standard gauge networks, which the revised package of works did.

Further standardisation would require significant investment, extensive construction in the Ballarat corridor and disruptions to Ballarat line passenger services, while not delivering key benefits originally promised.

The story Deputy PM opens door to further Murray rail funding first appeared on Stock & Land.

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