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01 July 2020
The Overland Melbourne-to-Adelaide passenger train will continue to operate for the next three years after confirmation the State Government will continue funding the service.
Public Transport Minister Ben Carroll announced late yesterday the government had entered into a new agreement.
The government commitment ensures the immediate future of the twice-weekly service – which stops at Murray Bridge, Bordertown, Nhill, Dimboola, Horsham, Stawell, Ararat and Geelong’s North Shore.
The government took responsibility of funding The Overland after the South Australian government withdrew funding support for the service past December 31, 2018.
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The South Australian government has continued to maintain its position and The Overland has been subject to only short-term Victorian government funding.
This included a three-month reprieve earlier this year to extend financial support until June 30, despite the service not running due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The service first ran as the Adelaide Express in 1887, before becoming The Overland in 1926. Tourist-experience operator Journey Beyond Rail now operates the train.
Mr Carroll said the government was proud to preserve the iconic train service – ‘giving certainty to regional jobs, regional tourism and regional Victorians who rely on this important connection’.
“We’ve listened to councils and communities in western Victoria, who have told us The Overland is a top priority when it comes to public transport services in their region,” he said.
Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford added the government was ‘not just saving an icon of Australia’s rail network – we’re also supporting vital jobs and the local economy in the Wimmera’.
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy, who has lobbied since 2015 for the State Government to provide funding certainty for the service, said the announcement came as a relief to many western Victorians.
She said many people in the region relied on The Overland to link them with Ballarat, Melbourne and Adelaide.
“This news is testament to the amazing community support for the campaign to get this crucial service funded,” she said.
“It has been a long, hard road to get to this point, and I am so thrilled the people of our region will continue to have access to this much-needed rail service.
“I congratulate everyone involved in this fight, particularly Marg Millington and the Save the Overland campaigners for their determination to ensure this service continued.”
Ms Kealy said it was now time for the State Government to recognise the need for regular domestic passenger-rail services between western Victoria and Melbourne.
“Not only does passenger rail impact our ability to attract and retain staff, it is also an important service to make sure local residents can get to medical appointments and connect with other communities, whether that is travelling through to Horsham or further on to Ballarat and Melbourne,” she said.
The entire July 1, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!