Cash pledge for track

Greens on board Upfield works but others urged to commit

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CAMPAIGNERS are treating the announcement of potential funding for a duplication of the Upfield railway line as a success, despite questions about the cost.

The Upfield Transport Alliance said the pledge made by Greens federal election candidate for Wills Adam Pulford of $150 million towards the duplication was a step forward for long-suffering public transport users.

Passengers are forced to wait at least 20 minutes between services on the line north of Coburg station due to the single track between Gowrie and Upfield stations. The alliance has held two rallies calling for the duplication in November and March, drawing more than 200 people on each occasion. Moreland councillor and alliance spokeswoman Sue Bolton said other parties needed to come to the table. She said without federal support, the duplication might be 15 years away. “It’s a vindication, but we’re wanting all parties to come out and pledge,” Cr Bolton, who is running for election as a Victorian Socialist candidate, said.

“It is positive, it also indicates the importance of setting up the campaign to get the duplication of the Upfield line brought forward.”

But Wills incumbent, Labor MP Peter Khalil, said the duplication would cost more than $500 million and the promise was just a “thought bubble”.

Mr Khalil didn’t commit to any funding for the duplication, but said he would continue to advocate to the State Government for the upgrade.

Mr Pulford said the costing had come from advice given to Greens state Brunswick MP Tim Read and would cover the installation of an extra track, but the State Government would have to pitch in for new trains and other infrastructure.

He said if elected, he would negotiate and advocate for the duplication.

“It would require extra funding from (the State Government) as well,” he said.

“It’s about putting pressure on whatever government it is and to say ‘this is what people are voting for and this is the action that people want’.” Three other candidates will also vie for the seat at the May 18 election. They are Liberal Peter Killen, Manju Venkat for United Australia and Chris Miles for the Animal Justice Party.