FRANKSTON MP Paul Edbrooke says that the Baxter rail extension will remain at a “standstill” until the business case is released.
The proposed rail extension would see the Frankston line duplicated and electrified to Baxter, with two new stations at Langwarrin and Frankston East constructed. The business case was handed to the federal government in October last year, but has not been publicly released.
Mr Edbrooke said “our community understands that the project is at a standstill until the federal government releases the business case for consideration of the costs and benefits.”
The Times has twice asked the office of federal urban infrastructure minister Alan Tudge whether the case will be released, and for updated costs for the project. Both times Mr Tudge’s office was asked, in November last year and March this year, the questions were not addressed.
In March Mr Tudge’s office said that “the Victorian government has completed the federally funded preliminary business case. The federal government is currently considering the outcomes of the PBC.”
“Currently, there is no state commitment towards funding, or towards the completion of a detailed business case, which would be the requisite next step prior to the project moving into the construction phase. We have $225 million committed towards its construction (“MP calls for release of Baxter business case”, The Times, 17/3/20).”
Mr Edbrooke told The Times “simply put, this is a 100 per cent federal Liberal Government broken promise on a billion dollar project they said they would build and didn’t even budget for”. Mr Edbrooke did not answer when asked if the federal government had communicated with the state government about funding for a further business case.
Infrastructure Australia’s latest update of their priority list saw the expansion of public transport services in Frankston listed as a “priority initiative” (“Public transport expansion a priority”, The Times, 2/3/20).
While the rail extension sits in limbo, Frankston line users continue to suffer through more cancellations than any other rail users. More than 1500 Frankston line trains were cancelled last year, over 400 more than the next worst performing line.