Victorian government to pay for Overland train service to run for next three years

Update 2pm: Statement from South Australian opposition leader Peter Malinauskas

Update 12:30pm: Save the Overland group member Margaret Millington has described the service's funding for three years as a "fantastic outcome".

Mrs Millington, of Nhill, said: "We are overwhelmed. A special thanks to the Victorian state government and to everyone who made the case for it to continue.

At an online summit last Friday, councillors and residents from both sides of the border resolved to begin promoting the train to tourists if it was given a lifeline.

"Moving forward our action will be something along those lines, and forming a Friends of the Overland group," Mrs Millington said. "When things become clearer with regards to the plans for it we will get together and formulate those actions."

11:45am: The last passenger train to the Wimmera will run until at least 2023, following an announcement by the state government on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman confirmed the service will be funded for the next three years, today being the day the most recent three-month funding agreement was due to expire.

The Victorian government has funded the Overland unilaterally since the South Australian government pulled out of a joint arrangement in December 2018.

"This funding is not contingent on the South Australian government providing any funding, and we will run the train as soon as the border reopens," she said.

More to come.

Update 12pm: Statement from Lowan MP Emma Kealy

"This news is testament to the amazing community support for the campaign to get this crucial service funded. It has been a long, hard road to get to this point, and I am so thrilled that the people of our region will continue to have access to this much-needed rail service, as they deserve to.

"I congratulate everyone involved in this fight, particularly Marg Millington and the Save the Overland campaigners for their dogged determination to ensure this service continued.

"I am proud to stand with the communities who have campaigned so hard to ensure this railway icon, and western Victoria's only passenger rail service, continues for years to come."

The Overland has received only short-term funding for the past few years, including an inconsequential three-month reprieve earlier this year to extend funding until June 30, despite the fact the service could not run due to coronavirus restrictions.

Ms Kealy said it was now time for the Andrews Labor Government to recognise the need for regular passenger rail services from western Victoria to Melbourne.

This story 'Fantastic outcome': Overland train advocates welcome new funding first appeared on The Wimmera Mail-Times.