New train line an alternative to ‘Mum’s taxi’ By Mike Hast

 Frequent, safe and reliable trains will enable young people to be more independent of their parents for transport.

Frequent, safe and reliable trains will enable young people to be more independent of their parents for transport.

The proposed Frankston to Baxter rail extension is big news across the region, but which governments are supporting it, where will the stations be built, and how will the new train line benefit the wider community?

With strong backing from the Federal Government and Opposition and the State Opposition, the $450 million-plus project has three of the four promises needed for it to go ahead. Rail supporters want the State Government to join the party, but in the lead-up to November’s state election there has been no word yet from Premier Daniel Andrews.

Three new stations have been proposed on the 8km extension. Frankston East would service Frankston Hospital and Monash University’s Peninsula campus and see up to 5000 “boardings” each weekday, making it among the top 25 busiest suburban stations. Six times more people could reach the hospital and university precinct within 50 minutes (walking plus train journey). With the State Government backing the hospital’s rebuilding project to the tune of $562 million, this station is essential to fulfil the grand vision of creating a world-leading teaching hospital alongside its normal functions. The station would relieve pressure on scarce hospital and health precinct parking.

The second station, as yet unnamed, would service 13,500 residents of Karingal, Frankston Heights and Lakeside. The third station, Langwarrin, would service 23,800 residents, and a 1000-plus commuter carpark has been proposed. An upgraded Baxter station also would have a new carpark and would be used by people living farther afield.

The new carparks would take pressure off Frankston’s CBD. Frankston station carpark holds just 416 vehicles and is full by 6.30am weekdays. Later commuters take many affordable CBD car spaces. The new line and its carparks outside the CBD would free up spaces for shoppers, traders and their staff as well as visitors and tourists. Shopping and working in Frankston would be far less hassle if affordable carparks were easier to find.

Some commuters who miss out on a CBD park keep driving up the line until they find a carpark at Kananook, Seaford or Carrum stations, a major inconvenience. Life would be so much easier if you knew there was plenty of station parking on McClelland Drive, Langwarrin.

A reliable train service every 10-15 minutes would transform Karingal, Frankston Heights, Frankston South and beyond. It would enable workers to get out of their cars and off congested roads, getting to and from work faster and home to their families sooner. Better transport would improve access to higher paying jobs and boost local incomes, a welcome relief as the cost of living rises.

‘Mum’s taxi’ would get a break — frequent, safe and reliable trains would enable young people to be more independent of their parents for transport. How good would it be if teenagers could get to their jobs, the beach or sports matches without having to ask Mum or Dad to drive them?

Committee for Greater Frankston is among organisations backing the rail extension; others include Frankston Council, Mornington Peninsula Shire, Frankston Hospital, Peninsula Health, Monash University, Karingal Hub, and Frankston traders. Committee CEO Ginevra Hosking, the granddaughter of Frankston’s first mayor, Percy Hosking, who founded Hosking’s Jewellers in 1945, has prepared a compelling case for the extension.

“Karingal and Langwarrin are two of Melbourne’s most car-dependent suburbs and the extension will be a game-changer for residents,” Ginevra said. “It will radically transform public transport in our region, drive creation of new jobs and improve overall prosperity, reduce congestion on roads, free up crowded carparks, and make better use of public and private assets like Frankston Hospital and Monash’s Peninsula campus.”

More information about the rail project is on the committee’s website at c4gf.com.au

Mike Hast is a freelance writer for the Committee for Greater Frankston and a former editor of Peninsula newspapers.