Tuesday’s Federal Budget revealed Canberra remains steadfastly committed to the proposed Frankston rail extension, says the Committee for Greater Frankston. The full $225 million in funding for the project remains locked in the Budget and is available within the forward estimates. This funding would enable further detailed planning works to begin – with the proviso the Victorian Government gave the project the green light.
Committee CEO Ginevra Hosking said the advocacy group and “other sections of the community are greatly relieved the Federal Government is still on board”. “There was little progress made on the project last year due to the State Government delaying and refusing to commit to the project, which will extend the metropolitan electrified train line beyond Frankston at an estimated cost of $500 million plus, and unlock a host of benefits,” she said.
“Many people in the community thought the project was a done deal after the 2018 Federal Budget. It is not. If the Victorian Government does not back the project, and match the federal commitment, it cannot go ahead. State inaction places our federal funding in jeopardy.”
She said the extension was listed earlier this year as a national infrastructure five-year priority project. “The extension is now even more important – to stimulate our economy as greater Melbourne emerges from two brutal COVID-19 lockdowns. It will be Frankston’s most important public transport project. It will provide a backbone to radically improve public transport; connecting 13,500 residents of Frankston’s eastern suburbs, 24,000 Langwarrin area residents and 165,000 Mornington Peninsula residents to the metropolitan network; transforming Frankston CBD parking; and servicing Monash University and Frankston Hospital.”
Ms Hosking said there was an echo from the past linking a pandemic with a rejected rail extension. “A Victorian parliamentary committee recommended electrifying the line from Frankston to Baxter and on to Mornington in 1929,” she said. “It was rejected by the state government as the nation and state battled to recover from the First World War, the 1918-19 influenza pandemic, and recession caused by falling prices for Australia’s key exports of wool and wheat. The 1929 Great Depression further harmed our economy and it took Australia almost a decade to recover. The extension was never built and our region has been waiting for adequate public transport ever since.
“Life was hard enough before the coronavirus pandemic and its restrictions. Now we need a massive boost and the rail extension will provide it on many levels.”