A TRAIN along the Eastern Freeway has been identified as the best rail route to Doncaster, with a new underground line from Northcote to the city integral to the plan.
A long-awaited feasibility study into a Doncaster link has pinpointed a preferred route to start at Doncaster Park and Ride, run along and under the freeway with stations at Bulleen and Kew and connect with the existing rail network at Victoria Park station in Collingwood.
It would then go through stations in Richmond, on to Flinders St and through the City Loop.
The solution would also need the South Morang line to be underground from about Northcote. It would travel via new stations at Merri, Clifton Hill, Fitzroy and Parkville in the proposed Melbourne Metro tunnel, before ending at a new Flagstaff Gardens station.
Work for Doncaster and South Morang could cost a total of up to $11 billion.
Transport Minister Terry Mulder said the study showed a rail line to Doncaster could go ahead. More detailed costing and construction work would be done.
But he said Doncaster couldn’t be built without dealing with capacity limitations on the South Morang and Hurstbridge lines. Those lines are expected to reach capacity between 2016 and 2022.
“That, we estimate, could be, on its own, $4 to $6 billion worth of work that would need to be done before you could build Doncaster rail, which in itself might cost $3-$5 billion,” Mr Gosbell said.
The Doncaster Rail Study phase one draft report, seen by the Herald Sun, also found the line could be extended to Doncaster Hill and Ringwood.
It also identified a tunnel-only route, which was expected to have the highest patronage and fastest travel time, but not deemed the preferred route because it could cost up to $11 billion.
Public Transport Users Association president Tony Morton said making the making a train to Doncaster conditional on putting part of the South Morang line was unnecessary and “an excuse to kill the project’’.
He said that in 2010 the government all but promised to build the line but failed to confront bureaucracy that made excuses to do nothing.
Dr Morton said the study proposed running a train line to a carpark.
“This is not how you plan a major public transport corridor. It was always intended the line would serve the major activity centre at Doncaster Hill, and not just be a single-purpose commuter service for CBD office workers,’’ he said.
He said the line, like those to Rowville and Melbourne Airport, needed to be built in stages and an “obsession with expensive tunnels’’ needed to be tempered.
“You build the part you can afford, and explain how you’ll plan the future stages to cope with expected patronage 20 years in the future. What you don’t do is use future patronage growth as an excuse to not extend the network now.’’
He said modern signalling on existing lines would dramatically boost the capacity of every line, which would support future growth without costing billions.
news.com.au Thursday, 14 March 2013