East west link: Manningham Council concerned about rail impact

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The Weekly Review Eastern: East west link: Manningham Council concerned about rail impact. Luke Henriques-Gomes. 31 October 2014

Manningham Council has raised concerns about the impact of the east west link on a proposed rail line to Doncaster.

It follows the release of the state government-commissioned rail feasibility study this week.

TWR reported on Tuesday that Public Transport Victoria responded to the $6.5 million study by saying construction of Doncaster rail could not begin until the Melbourne Rail Link was completed in 2026.

Manningham Council acting chief executive Leigh Harrison said it appeared the road tunnel project may impact on the proposed route for Doncaster rail.

“Council acknowledges the report’s findings that the East West Link (EWL) will not preclude a future Doncaster Rail line, however, irrespective of this, it appears that the proposed rail alignment is being altered to accommodate the EWL, potentially adding additional cost to build rail,” Mr Harrison said.

The study, commissioned by the state government and led by engineering firm GRS, said the Doncaster rail alignment moved out of the Eastern Freeway median at a more easterly point so that the rail line and the east west link could be built.

There is “no significant additional cost associated with this more easterly deviation”, the study said.

TWR recently reported that Manningham Council was calling on the government to preference Doncaster rail over the east west link project.

RELATED: East-west link: Manningham Council calls for rail link to Doncaster

Mr Harrison said the council was also disappointed the study’s preferred route terminated at the Doncaster Park and Ride and not Doncaster Hill.

He said by 2030 the council expected the Doncaster Hill precinct, which includes Westfield Shoppingtown, to accommodate more than 10,000 residents, 5400 apartments and several commercial offices.

This would “generate significant traffic congestion” unless motorists shifted to public transport, Mr Harrison said.

The study said it could not justify extending the railway by tunnel to the Hill at a “prohibitive cost” (estimated around $1 billion) for a “relatively small number of passengers”.

These passengers would have access to buses at the park and ride, the study said.

The study estimated the project would cost $3-5 billion, and is dependent on projects to increase capacity on the network, such as the Melbourne Rail Link and de-coupling of the South Morang and Hurstbridge lines.

The study also estimated the rail line would attract around 56,000 average weekday boardings in 2031, but prompt only 2 per cent of motorists to switch to trains.

The majority of morning peak passengers would be made up of those who currently use bus services or rail in other municipalities.

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