Melbourne’s eastern suburbs cannot afford to wait another 10 years for the Rowville Rail link to be built, said Eastern Transport Coalition Chairperson Cr Samantha Dunn.
Cr Dunn was responding to comments made by Transport Minister Terry Mulder following the release of the Rowville Rail Study, that a Rowville train line `could not be provided for at least a decade’.
Cr Dunn said delaying the Rowville Rail Link for another 10 years would only exacerbate costs, road congestion and land use issues and called on the government to take the lead, work through the issues and get the rail line built.
“This project has been shoved into the too-hard-basket for four decades by successive state governments who claim that it is either too hard or too expensive and now the Baillieu Government is talking about delaying for yet another decade,” Cr Dunn said.
“The cost of congestion, through delays in delivery schedules and opportunity costs, has been estimated at $20.4 billion annually, of which $2.44 billion directly impacts eastern and south eastern Melbourne,” she said.
“With its capacity to carry over 2,350 passengers per hour, the Rowville rail line would remove the equivalent of one lane of traffic from the Monash Freeway. This would provide substantial benefits to the delivery of freight through reducing overall traffic congestion.
“Monash is one of Melbourne’s major universities and it is growing year by year. Students and staff need a fast, reliable, integrated public transport system – a sentiment that has been clearly stated at recent community forums held at Monash University.
“For those living at the Rowville end, buses simply cannot adequately meet the community’s public transport needs, nor is it a viable option for many commuters as buses use the increasingly congested road network.”
The ETC believes that heavy rail is the only public transport option that will adequately service this part of Melbourne now and in the future
“Only last week, Auditor-General Des Pearson told Parliament that public transport patronage is expected to jump by around 70 per cent in the next decade,” Cr Dunns said.
“He also estimated that capital expenditure on public transport would need to triple over the next decade to cope with this expected growth.
“Further delay will only exacerbate an already unsatisfactory situation.”
The ETC is made up of seven eastern suburban councils, and represents the public transport needs of more than one million residents.