The Baillieu Government have launched their promised $6.5m Doncaster Rail Study.
YCAT has long campaigned for Heavy Rail to Doncaster and welcomes the study.
The study has been tasked to evaluate a range of possible routes linking Doncaster with the CBD. Establishing a route is the most important decision as there are many options, each with benefits and costs.
Heavy Rail to Doncaster promises to reduce pressure on the Eastern Freeway and inner city roads, reducing traffic and air pollution in highly populated areas. If linked with a Zero Carbon Stationary Energy Plan, electric trains can substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially during peak periods. Unfortunately this will not occur if Victoria persists with brown coal electricity such as the proposed HRL brown coal plant currently before VCAT.
YCAT is concerned that the scope explicitly defers to future and controversial road projects:
“Alternative alignments will also be considered that have the potential to reduce impacts on future road proposals in this area including an east-west link, Hoddle Street and North-East Link.”
YCAT vigorously opposes all of these road projects.
Although the study envisions using Internet forums, workshops and submissions, unlike previous studies such as the Northern Corridor Study’s Community Reference Group, or Hoddle Street Study’s Advisory Group, there is no plan for a Community Advisory Group.
YCAT urges the study team to consult the community early, and often.
The scope also downplays the role of Heritage, Environment and Sustainability compared to earlier studies, which had strict triple bottom line evaluation criteria. There is a huge difference in the outcomes of a rail project compared to a road project, so there may be less need to market the sustainability of the project.
Instead there is new real estate objective:
The study team will examine the actual and potential increase in land values – for example, land rental value changes over time, identification of potential real estate increase or value capture.
Despite these concerns we welcome the long overdue study and will campaign for a successful outcome.