The Rail Futures Institute Inc. (RFI) and the Town and Country Planning Association Inc. (TCPA) have pleasure in jointly releasing a Discussion Paper, Rail as a Catalyst for Regional Growth, which explores the opportunity post pandemic for Victoria’s regional cities to accommodate a much larger proportion of the State’s future population growth.
This now looms as a critical issue requiring more widespread recognition and government attention. For many decades, Melbourne has been the principal focus of Victoria’s population growth, but its share has kept increasing apace while regional Victoria’s share has been shrinking. This has contributed to a range of problems in Melbourne, and quite a different set in problems in Victoria’s regions.
The release of this Discussion Paper is timely. The pandemic has sparked a greater interest in regional living and, as we look to recovery and a brighter and more equitable future, the opportunity for change should not be missed. Boosting regional growth will require a planned and co-ordinated approach across all three layers of Government, and the willing and sustained participation of regional communities and businesses. Improvements in regional infrastructure (such as faster intercity rail, and broadband services) will be essential to achieving good outcomes.
The Discussion Paper aims to provide Victoria’s Urban and Transport Planners with a clearer understanding of the role of the rail network and services in shaping Victoria’s future regional economy; and the role of regional cities in shaping the use and development of railway services and infrastructure. It identifies eight key topics to stimulate further discussion and to feed into a more detailed Regional Rail Strategy to be released later in 2022.