Horsham Rural City Council Mayor Mark Radford has thanked Wimmera people who rallied to save the Overland passenger train.
The Victorian Government this week announced funding to continue the iconic service between Melbourne and Adelaide, the only passenger services that services Western Victoria.
Cr Radford has been the Wimmera’s leader in the campaign to keep it running.
“The funding commitment for three years, to keep the Overland Passenger train running, by the Victorian Government is a good news story for communities along the route,” Cr Radford said.
“Council has been advocating for the service since 2018. Our local MPs, Emma Kealy and Dr Anne Webster have also supported the cause.
“I would like to express my appreciation to our neighbouring Councils and community members who took the time to write letters of support to the decision makers.
“Council also appreciates the support we received from the former Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne,” he said.
The service travels to Melbourne on Mondays and Fridays and from Melbourne on Tuesdays and Saturdays. However it is not operating while the South Australian border is closed.
Cr Radford said more could be done to explore how the train could benefit the region.
“Wimmera communities have a great opportunity to get the most out of the service by thinking outside the square in relation to new tourism opportunities,” he said.
“For example, we could create three and four night self-drive holidays with a local hire car and local accommodation which could harmonise with the Overland timetable.
“It is a good service, with a long history. When restrictions ease, I would encourage Wimmera residents to check it out and take a trip to Melbourne or Adelaide on the Overland,” Cr Radford said.
The twice-weekly service stops at Murray Bridge, Bordertown, Nhill, Dimboola, Horsham, Stawell, Ararat and Geelong’s North Shore.
The Overland was put in jeopardy after the South Australian Government’s decision to stop funding the service, which is used by 20,000 people each year.
The service first ran as the Adelaide Express in 1887, before becoming the Overland in 1926. It is now operated by private tourist experience operator Journey Beyond Rail.