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Fast regional rail is the key to managing population growth

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Victoria’s regional rail network deserves a rebuild. As our metropolis heaves under the strain of population pressure and all it entails, European-style fast rail should be part of the answer.

Sure, it has been promised for years with unfulfilled commitments succeeding only in delivering disappointment all round.

In Victoria, a fast regional rail network is the crucial factor in managing population growth. Illustration: Matt Davidson.Credit:

But that doesn’t mean it should not be undertaken now. It’s affordable and achievable in the medium term. And it will improve liveability across our community while increasing the productive capacity of our economy.

Reducing commute times for regional and rural passengers is as important as cutting down the number of mode changes that often make such travel so cumbersome. For many people living outside Melbourne, the benefits of prosperity and opportunity seem remote, when nearly all of the major activities seem to happen around the capital.

Generally, we all know the score. Victoria’s population continues to surge, growing at around 137,000 last year with over 90 per cent of people choosing to locate in metropolitan Melbourne.

Victoria’s population continues to surge, growing at around 137,000 last year.Credit:Jessica Shapiro

That translated into a growth rate of 2.7 per cent last year, the highest in Australia. Compare that with New South Wales, which grew by 1.6 per cent.

Victorian government figures show that metropolitan areas such as Wyndham and Casey........

© The Age