The Eastern Transport coalition said it was disappointing that public transport needs in the eastern suburbs have once again been largely ignored in this week’s State Budget.
Eastern Transport Coalition spokesperson Cr Samantha Dunn said many resident’s in Melbourne’s east had no access to rail services, suffered with overcrowded buses that did not offer a competitive alternative to car travel, inefficient network links and sub-standard transport infrastructure.
“We hoped that the government would maintain the momentum of the Rowville and Doncaster Rail projects by delivering funding for phase 2 of their feasibility studies. Regrettably, neither project has rated a mention despite positive outcomes in Stage 1 of each feasibility study,” Cr Dunn said.
Cr Dunn said it was also disappointing that the Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel was allocated a relatively small sum in the Budget compared with the East West Road project, as its construction was the key to significant expansion of the Dandenong Rail line and the future integration of a Rowville rail line.
The government plans to spend $10 million in the next year “to progress detailed planning on Melbourne Metro” while $6 to $8 billion will be spend on Stage 1 of the East West Link.
Cr Dunn said the Metro Tunnel and signalling were the linchpin for the urgently needed expansion of the network, and it was concerning that it wasn’t made a priority.
Cr Dunn said $25 million for additional train services on the Dandenong rail line was a good start, however the Dandenong Rail Corridor also needed additional tracks and a signalling upgrade in order to provide reliable express services, efficient V/Line regional services and possible future freight services.
While $25 million was allocated for bus services, the eastern suburbs have been overlooked in favour of “key growth areas, leaving our residents to contend with overcrowded buses and excessively long journey times.
“The $66 million to upgrade the Ringwood station precinct announced before the Budget is a positive step, as are the grade separations to remove level crossings in Mitcham, Springvale, Blackburn and Bayswater,” Cr Dunn said.
“Level crossings create increasing delays on roads for cars, buses and trams, and limit the future expansion of the rail network. With so many trouble spots dotted throughout Melbourne’s east, the ETC hopes that the government will accelerate the program of grade separations in the future.”