Is the state government’s commitment to the Rowville Rail Project real: Fears that rail project will be shunted

Train delayed: Samantha Dunn is calling on the government to speed up the release of the Rowville rail feasibility study. Picture: Ted Kloszynski

COMMUTERS are losing faith in the state government’s commitment to the Rowville Rail project, says the south-east’s key public transport lobby.

Samantha Dunn, chairwoman of the Eastern Transport Coalition and a councillor with Yarra Ranges shire, says the community is concerned that the project will be shelved given the delay of the final report on a feasibility study. The report was due six months ago.

“People want to have faith in the process. They want to know that it’s a genuine process and when we see delays like this, people do start to question the genuineness around that,” Ms Dunn said.

“Public transport was clearly one of the key issues at the previous state election. I think any government that ignores public transport does that at their peril.”

As part of the project, a station at Rowville — most likely underneath Stud Park shopping centre — would be established, but only if an upgrade of the Dandenong line is undertaken.

The Dandenong upgrade would mean two new platforms for Huntingdale station and a new track between Huntingdale and Caulfield with four grade separations in between.

The proposed station at Rowville would link to new stations at Monash University, Mulgrave and Waverley Park.

The size of the project means Victoria will have to apply to Infrastructure Australia, the federal government’s adviser, for funding.

The final report in the project’s feasibility study was to be released in the middle of this year.

The study’s second phase, which was to include detailed proposals on the findings of the first phase, was to run between mid 2012-13.

In March, Sinclair Knight Merz, the engineering firm appointed by the Victorian government to conduct the feasibility study, revealed the railway would not materialise for at least another decade. This was because of the size of the project and the improvements needed to existing networks.

At present, two tracks between Dandenong and Caulfield carry all Dandenong, Pakenham and Cranbourne services in addition to V/Line and freight trains. Peak services are regularly overcrowded.

Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said the state government would not commit to a new timeline but would wait for the final feasibility study report.

“The draft report released in March made a number of recommendations and findings that have been the subject of public consultation and feedback,” he said.

“We will await the release of the final report to examine any final recommendations the report makes.”

Danila Tran and Tara McGrath, The Knox Weekly, December 3, 2012,