Making News
Rail extension business case ‘Orwellian’, says advocacy group

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The release of the long-awaited Frankston rail extension preliminary business case shows that woefully inadequate public transport in our region is still not being taken seriously by the State Government, says the Committee for Greater Frankston.

The preliminary business case was released today by Federal Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge and was prepared by the State Government’s Major Transport Infrastructure Authority using a federal grant.

Committee for Greater Frankston CEO Ginevra Hosking said the business case’s claim that none of the investment options had demonstrated a strong economic case for priority investment was the State Government “playing Orwellian games”.

“It’s time for the State Government to start properly planning to construct this vital public transport project,” Ms Hosking said. “The failing public transport network between Frankston and Langwarrin is recognised as a nationally significant infrastructure priority by Infrastructure Australia – a top 150 project in the nation. But the State Government’s indicative preferred option doesn’t even include a local station for the people of Frankston South, Karingal and Langwarrin, effectively bypassing 37,000 Frankston City residents.

“The Victorian Government was given $1.5 million of public money to create this report, which purports to be a rapid ‘cost-benefit study’ but it clearly states that actually quantifying the project benefits was ‘out of scope’. The Frankston and wider community were expecting their State Government to extend the train line to at least Langwarrin with a minimum 15-minute metro service and a dedicated commuter park and ride for at least 1000 cars. Taxpayer money paid for this rail extension study. We deserve a full explanation about why this project – so vital to our region – has been stopped dead in its tracks.”

Ms Hosking said the public benefits of the Frankston rail extension, above, had been well documented, widely disseminated through the community, and “strongly supported by our region’s major organisations”. “The project 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 such as Frankston Hospital and Monash’s Peninsula campus.”

Major transport benefits that should have been assessed “if the report had been done properly” include:

• Connecting 13,500 residents of Karingal, Frankston Heights and Lakeside to Melbourne’s metropolitan train network. “It would provide a new Langwarrin station for almost 24,000 residents, and link 160,000 residents of the Mornington Peninsula to Melbourne’s rail network via Baxter station. This would get people to jobs up the Frankston rail line, out of their cars, off congested roads and home sooner. It would also reverse a decline in rail patronage at the southern end of the Frankston line”;
• Providing a new station at Frankston East to benefit 11,000 staff and students at Monash University’s Peninsula campus and Chisholm TAFE as well as 4500 staff, patients and visitors at Frankston Hospital, which is expected to almost double in size over the next decade. “The extension would provide six times more Monash students with access to their campus within 50 minutes’ travelling time” (Hale, 2018); and,
• Freeing up scarce carparking in central Frankston so it’s easier to shop and do business.

“The enormous public benefits of extending the Frankston train line to Langwarrin are well known to our community,” Ms Hosking said. “The Federal Coalition Government and Federal Opposition obviously understand the benefits as both have already committed to provide an initial $225 million towards its construction. It is incredibly disappointing that the State Government, in the middle of its biggest-ever infrastructure construction surge, has effectively sidelined the rail extension project.

“Just weeks ago, during a parliamentary hearing into the Victorian Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said travel between outer suburbs was more likely to increase. To recover from COVID lockdowns, we need this project now.”

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