Doncaster Rail works won’t begin until 2026, says PTV

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The Weekly Review Eastern: Doncaster Rail works won’t begin until 2026, says PTV. Luke Henriques-Gomes. 29 October 2014

UPDATE: The findings of the $6.5 million Doncaster rail study were revealed by the state government on Tuesday, following pressure from public transport advocates and Manningham Council.

In its response to the report, also released on Tuesday, Public Transport Victoria said: “The Doncaster Rail Study uses 2021 as the earliest possible commencement date for a Doncaster rail line.”

“However, given the need to build capacity in the inner-core of the rail network as a priority, and before any new rail lines are added, a Doncaster rail line would not be delivered prior to the completion of the Melbourne Rail Link in 2026.”

The study’s final report, led by engineering firm GRS, confirms many of the recommendations in the draft report, which was released in March last year.

It states that the preferred route alignment would begin at the current Doncaster Park and Ride facility, follow the Eastern Freeway, before connecting to the inner-city network just north of Collingwood station.

The proposed line would attract around 56,000 average weekday boardings in 2031 and cost $3-5 billion, the report said.

The study recommends new stations near Bulleen Road in Bulleen and the Chandler Highway in Kew, along the Eastern Freeway, along with a station at the Doncaster Park And Ride.

“The connections at Collingwood and beyond would use current rail and station infrastructure,” the report said.

“The alignment accommodates the potential East-West Link and the Melbourne Metro Project, enabling all three projects to be developed independently.”

The study was completed before the government announced its Melbourne Rail Link Project, which, like the Melbourne Metro Project, aims to boost capacity on the network.

The proposed line would include 10 kilometres of above ground rail and two kilometres “located in tunnels”, the report said.

Jill Hennessy, Shadow Minister for Public Transport, said the report revealed a state government broken promise.

“Prior to the last election, the Liberals promised to find the funds and build the project. It broke this promise,” Ms Hennessy said.

The need to separate the Hurstbridge and South Morang lines is also identified in the report, with the Clifton Hill group expected to reach capacity even without Doncaster rail.

The report finds that extending the proposed line further, to Doncaster Hill (near Westfield Shoppingtown), would be “difficult to justify” because of the “disproportionately high” cost of tunnelling. Rail to Doncaster Hill is the route preferred by Manningham Council.

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber said his party was committed to pursuing Doncaster rail and would try to move the project forward in parliament.

“The study was a stitch-up to make the project look difficult, expensive and dependent on a whole bunch of other projects that are many years away,” Mr Barber said.

“In other words, to help the Liberals wiggle out of their promise. That’s why they are nowhere to be seen now that the report is finally out.”

A spokeswoman for Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said the government was improving the Doncaster Area Rapid Transit bus service in the short term by constructing new bus lanes and introducing larger, articulated buses.

She said the government would also look at ways to “refine” the Doncaster rail project.

“The Victorian Coalition Government through Public Transport Victoria will continue to undertake further engineering work to refine the rail alignment as well as update patronage projections to better understand the demand for a Doncaster rail line,” the spokeswoman said.

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