Overland train service to continue after securing Victorian Government funding
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he was “puzzled” at the attitude of the South Australian Government for withdrawing funding for the Overland train service.
- The Victorian Government has stepped in to help fund the Overland train service
- The Adelaide-to-Melbourne service will now continue in 2019
- The SA Government stands by its decision not to subsidise the line
The Victorian Government will contribute an additional $200,000 to subsidise the Adelaide-to-Melbourne service, which also acts as a regional service for western Victoria.
It means the train will run for at least one more year.
Last month, the South Australian Government refused to continue its $330,000 in annual funding for the service, run by Great Southern Rail.
Mr Andrews made the comments ahead of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Adelaide today.
He said he was not sure if he would have time to raise the funding issue with SA Liberal Premier Steven Marshall.
“I would simply make the point to him and all South Australians that hopefully your Government will be happy to support public transport in your state next year,” Mr Andrews said.
“We weren’t going to see this thing closed down.
“It’s an icon, it’s an asset and it’s a little bit puzzling why the South Australian Liberal Government wouldn’t want to provide any money for it.”
Great Southern Rail will also absorb $130,000 in operational costs to continue the Overland until December 31, 2019.
The train runs twice a week between Adelaide and Melbourne and carries about 17,000 passengers per year.
It also stops in Murray Bridge, Bordertown, Nhill, Dimboola, Horsham, Stawell, Ararat and Geelong.
Trips take 10.5 hours compared to a 1.5 hour flight.
SA Transport Minister Stephan Knoll continued to defend the decision to end funding.
“It’s good that the Overland service can continue for another 12 months,” he said.
“I think there’s an opportunity for South Australians to vote with their feet.
“We’ve seen a fivefold reduction in the number of people choosing to use the service.”
Great Southern Rail will do a “full review” of the Overland service early next year.
Overland provides service for disabled
News the Overland would continue to run is expected to be welcomed by people living with a disability who have difficulties accessing air travel.
Last month the ABC spoke to the family of Luke Green, 27, who lives with a rare condition known as hereditary spastic paraplegia type 11.
He is paralysed from the neck down and is slowly losing his ability to speak, eat and swallow.
He was able to take flights to and from Melbourne last month to be in the studio audience for the TV show Mad As Hell.
Qantas had access to the lifter needed to get Luke into a plane seat, but only Jetstar had a plane big enough to accommodate his wheelchair.
When the ABC contacted the airlines, they agreed to work together, but a return flight to Melbourne for his brother’s wedding in March is looking unlikely.
Qantas and Jetstar wrote to his mother, Carolyn Lawlor-Smith, that the trip was a one-off.
Instead, they may now have to take the Overland, after previously worrying it would not be running next year.
“It’s not that difficult, it’s not that expensive, and for dignity and the ability, universal travel is so important,” Ms Lawlor-Smith said.