People and Places
28/07/2020
Councils, MPs and community unite to fix region’s public transport By MIKE HAST

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We continue our coverage of the long-running proposal to extend the Frankston electric rail line to Langwarrin and the Mornington Peninsula.

The proposed Frankston train line extension has been listed as one of Victoria’s six key nation-building projects by Infrastructure Australia. The independent organisation listed improving public transport to and through Frankston as a national infrastructure priority earlier this year – one of the top 200 projects in the nation – and then asked a local advisory committee to recommend a plan.

For 10 weeks the committee of Frankston and Mornington Peninsula people has been meeting online to consider 23 big ideas around the extension that will vastly improve public transport in the region and revitalise the economy, now even more important after coronavirus shutdowns. Its report recommends reworking the region’s entire public transport network around an extended rail backbone, supported by projects to improve car-to-train, bus-to-train, and pedestrian/cycle path-to-train connections.

Frequent, safe and reliable public transport will, for example, enable commuters to more easily connect with trains to Melbourne. Young people will be more independent of their parents. The elderly will also benefit.

The advisory committee has recommended to Infrastructure Australia that the region needs a dual-track rail extension from Frankston to Langwarrin at a minimum. It will be part of an integrated bus and train system, with cars also playing a part. The extension would have stations at Monash University’s Peninsula campus in Frankston and at Langwarrin. A second option is extending the track a bit further to Baxter.

The advisory committee drew in experts and policy-makers in public transport from the region’s two councils as well as local politicians, business people and tertiary education leaders. Led by Committee for Greater Frankston, members included Liberal and Labor MPs, local council transport department heads, representatives of Monash’s Peninsula campus and Chisholm’s Frankston TAFE, and business and community group leaders.

There was broad agreement that Frankston and Mornington Peninsula bus networks needed to be vastly improved to boost usage. However, more buses alone was not the answer.

Committee for Greater Frankston chief executive Ginevra Hosking said two priority options called for a “minimum 15-minute train service”.

“Both options allow a 15-minute service, a new Leawarra-Monash campus station for the growing Frankston health and education precinct (with estimated patronage making it the 15th busiest suburban station), and moving the main commuter parking outside Frankston’s CBD, freeing up the city centre for other users,” she said.

Other recommendations include commuter park and ride facilities at Langwarrin and other stations, more express trains, better pedestrian/cycling paths, and improving roads near new and existing stations. There would be 2000-plus commuter car spaces for travellers from the Peninsula.

First proposed in 1929, the extension has an initial budgeted federal commitment of $225 million, but the State Government has yet to financially support or commit to its construction. “Almost a century is too long to wait for any project,” said advisory committee chairwoman Christine Richards. “It’s time to extend the line, build the missing station carparks, fill the trains and run them fast to get public transport usage across the region back on track.”

The full report is on the Committee for Greater Frankston’s website at www.c4gf.com.au
Mike Hast is a freelance writer for the Committee for Greater Frankston and a former editor of Peninsula newspapers.

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