The Victorian Upper House Inquiry into Train Services is investigating the right sector but the wrong problem, according to advocacy group the Eastern Transport Coalition (ETC).

 ETC chair Cr Samantha Dunn, who will appear before the inquiry on Tuesday September 22nd , said an investigation into last December’s Connex service meltdown was no longer the best use of the Upper House’s resources.

She said the most critical need for public transport improvements lay not in services provided by an outgoing rail operator, but across Melbourne’s under-resourced outer east.

“We welcome any opportunity to talk about the need for more investment in better public transport solutions and we’re pleased that the inquiry wants to hear from us,” Cr Dunn said.

“But we feel this focus on a series of weather-related service malfunctions last summer can promise little in the way of tangible service improvements.

 “Unfortunately, and despite our many years of advocacy, the one million people who live in Melbourne’s east are too often denied access not to frequent and reliable services, but to any services at all.”

Cr Dunn said the most urgent need was for rail extensions to Rowville, which would service Monash University, and Doncaster.

“We were disappointed that the Brumby Government’s Victorian Transport Plan was silent on this much-needed infrastructure and we’re now asking the Government to undertake full and public feasibility studies into a heavy rail line to Rowville, and a heavy rail line to Doncaster,” she said.

Cr Dunn said the crash on the Monash Freeway which threw Melbourne into chaos on Wednesday morning showed yet again that new roads were not the solution to easing congestion or making life simpler, safer or easier for the city’s fast-growing population.

“We hope that rather than be the end of an investigation into failed services nine months ago, the Upper House Inquiry into Train Services will instead be the beginning of greater scrutiny of the Government’s political and funding priorities.”

The Eastern Transport Coalition represents about one million people living in the municipalities of Monash, Whitehorse, Dandenong, Manningham, Knox, Maroondah and Yarra Ranges.

The ETC advocates for better public transport to reduce car dependency and secure the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of Melbourne’s outer east.

MEDIA CONTACT Cr Samantha Dunn, chair, Eastern Transport Coalition 0407 364 509 Lissie Ratcliff, CPR, 0417 519 223