newsCO.com.au–Greens release $5 billion plan to fix ‘inadequate’ train network

April 17, 2018

This mirrors a 2031 model for the Metro Tunnel, outlined in the project’s business case.

Current plans are to run 18 services along the Sunbury line, and 19 on the Cranbourne/Pakenham line during peak hour one the day the tunnel opens.

“Given the rate of population growth, unless Metro is extended with new lines and interchanges, it will be inadequate by the time it opens,” Greens transport spokesman Sam Hibbins said.

“The Melbourne Metro was built very much as a capacity project.”

The Greens also promise to have faster electric trains running to Melton before the Metro Tunnel opens and estimate that would cost up to $750 million.

The Andrews government is duplicating the single section of track between Deer Park and Melton in Melbourne’s west, and argues this will pave the way for the line to take electric trains.

Extending the Cranbourne train line to Clyde – the most expensive item on the Greens agenda, costing between $1-3 billion – should be done within the next term of government, the party argues.

While local councils and resident groups have long advocated for better services to Melton and Cranbourne, Infrastructure Victoria has said this should not be priority.

Infrastructure Victoria says a tram link to Fishermans Bend and more bus services in regional towns should be provided before the Cranbourne train line is extended to Clyde and the Melton line is electrified.

Grattan Institute economist Hugh Batrouney argued that about 10 per cent of workers in Melton travel to the city for work, with one third remaining in the suburb.

“The priorities in the [Greens] document do not align well with needs assessments done by Infrastructure Victoria … for near-term priorities,” Mr Batrouney said.

“Infrastructure Victoria’s standout transport-BOOKr.VIP priorities were much more about getting more from what we already have rather than building more infrastructure.”

But Mr Hibbins said that demand for rail in the growth areas was clear.

“These projects are needed as soon as possible. If you speak to the communities they will tell you the same thing.”

He said he wanted to see an end to rising car dependency and a “scatter gun approach” to planning that had resulted in booming areas left without access to public transport.

In an unlikely alliance, the Greens are in agreement with the Liberal party in promising to build the South Yarra interchange for the Metro Tunnel in the marginal seat of Prahran, at an estimated cost of $970 million.

The Greens have also matched a commitment by the government to upgrade South Yarra Station in a $225 million pledge to rebuild the entrance, expand the foyer and build a new tram stop at the station in Mr Hibbins’ seat.

Timna Jacks

Transport Reporter at The Age

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