Report backs shorter rail extension

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A PLAN to electrify and duplicate the Frankston rail line to Langwarrin has been endorsed by a committee of MPs, council employees, and local business representatives.

A business case looking into duplicating and electrifying the train line to Baxter was completed last year. The project has since been at a standstill, with $225 million in funding committed by the federal government but none committed by the state government (“Rail extension at a standstill”, The Times, 30/3/2020).

Since the completion of the business case an advisory committee has been set up to explore the future of the project and make a recommendation to Infrastructure Australia, an independent body which advises all levels of government on infrastructure projects. 

The committee featured representatives from Mornington and Frankston councils, Monash University, Chisholm TAFE, the Committee for Greater Frankston, the Committee for Mornington Peninsula, state MP Paul Edbrooke, federal MP Peta Murphy, and Liberal senator David Van.

The advisory committee endorsed two plans, one of which would see the rail extended with twin tracks to Langwarrin. The rail line would run past a new Leawarra station to a new Langwarrin station. The advisory committee’s report estimated the cost of that project to be just over $400 million.

A second more expensive plan was also endorsed by the advisory committee. That plan would see the track electrified all the way to Baxter at a cost of just over $550 million.

The committee assessed the possibility of extending the rail line using a single track, but their report read that the option would not meet the “minimum service requirement” of trains every 15 minutes.

Committee for Greater Frankston CEO Ginevra Hosking said that both endorsed options would “allow a 15-minute service, a new Leawarra–Monash campus station servicing 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.”

“The most controversial aspect of the advisory committee’s report was what to do if, without state government investment, there was insufficient funds to duplicate and electrify all 8 kilometers of the line to Baxter,” she said. “One shorter term option we investigated was electrification of the existing single track rather than replacement with a double track, on the assumption that a second track could be built in future. However, a single track would severely reduce train frequency.”

The advisory committee’s 54 page report was handed to Infrastructure Australia on 16 June. The committee was set up in response to IA listing the expansion of public transport services in Frankston as a “priority initiative” on their priority list (“Public transport a priority”, The Times, 2/3/2020)

To view the full report visit c4gf.com.au

First published in the Frankston Times – 22 June 2020

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