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

The Weekly Review Eastern: East-west link: Manningham Council calls for rail link to Doncaster. Luke Henriques-Gomes 20 October 2014

Manningham Council has weighed into the east-west link debate, arguing that rail to Doncaster should come before the state government’s 6.6-kilometre cross-city road project.

It comes amid concerns the future of the long-proposed railway remains unclear only weeks out from the state election.

The council’s Doncaster rail advocacy committee last week unveiled a petition with more than 4000 signatures outside state parliament. Manningham mayor Jim Grivokostopoulos said the rail line “must take priority over road-based infrastructure projects, such as the proposed east-west link”.

The draft report of a feasibility study into the project was released in March last year. The final report has not yet surfaced.

“It has now been almost four years since this feasibility study commenced, and to date there is still no clear information about the outcome of the study,” Cr Grivokostopoulos said.

A spokeswoman for Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said the final report would be released shortly.

The spokeswoman said the government was improving the Doncaster Area Rapid Transit bus service in the meantime, including $47 million in funding for new bus lanes and other work along Hoddle Street and Victoria Parade.

Public Transport Users Association president Tony Morton recently backed claims by the author of the Rowville rail feasibility study, who said the Rowville project could move ahead now that signalling upgrades had been announced for the Cranbourne-Pakenham line.

Dr Morton said the same logic could be applied to Doncaster, which could be pursued if work was considered on the South Morang and Hurstbridge lines.

But Monash University public transport expert Graham Currie said the Rowville and Doncaster projects could not be directly compared.

An opposition spokesman said Public Transport Victoria’s network development plan identified a need for more capacity.

“Labor will build the Melbourne Metro that will allow for additional lines and increased capacity,” he said.

Earlier in the year, the government announced plans to build the Melbourne rail link project, which it said “will increase the capacity of Melbourne’s rail network by 30 per cent”.

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