Not 'plane vs train': Mildura Airport chair sees benefit in passenger rail return

Member for Mallee Andrew Broad has warned Mildura could lose air services if passenger rail was reinstated.

Member for Mallee Andrew Broad has warned Mildura could lose air services if passenger rail was reinstated.

PASSENGER rail services to Mildura would likely increase the number of people travelling to Victoria’s north-west rather than dilute air traffic, according to Mildura Airport chairman Peter O’Donnell.

His comments came after Member for Mallee Andrew Broad warned Mildura could “possibly could lose 30 per cent airport patronage” if a passenger rail service to Melbourne was reintroduced.

The Nationals MP’s comment that Mildura would “find it difficult to sustain both” air and rail links was made at a rally calling for the rail service’s restoration on Saturday and attracted a social media backlash.

“It is not and should never be a train-versus-plane debate, which unfortunately Andrew’s commentary has created,” Mr O’Donnell said yesterday.

“I am not privy to any analysis of the effect of the train on Mildura Airport so not sure of the source of Andrew’s information.

“I am also not across the details of a passenger train in terms of frequency, pricing, duration, et cetera, so could not assess properly until this was known.

“However, it is reasonable to assume that there could be some overlap when travellers may choose one over the other.”

Rather than damage air services, though, Mr O’Donnell said he believed a train service would mainly cater for people who at present did not or could not use air travel.

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