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High petrol price signals Rowville Rail need

With petrol prices expected to hit $1.60 in the next fortnight, the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has warned the State Government that urgent action is required. According to the association, the Rowville railway line is the only sure-fire way to ensure economic stability in the Monash region, as petrol prices continue to rise.

“Outer east residents are already feeling the pinch from high petrol prices and they are feeling it worse than anywhere else in Melbourne,” said Jeremy Lunn, the PTUA’s Outer East Convenor. “With an outlook towards higher petrol prices into the future, it’s really time to build the Rowville railway line now.”

According to Elizabeth Bryan, chair of Caltex Australia, the cost of petrol is on a long term upward trend. This is because worldwide demand for oil has outstripped supply and continues to do so. The average Australian household is already paying $206 a month on petrol, an increase of $30 in six months (source: CommSec).

“Unfortunately, high petrol prices are here to stay and this means that rolling out public transport upgrades should be our highest priority,” Mr Lunn said. “The only way we can reduce the burden is to lessen our dependency on oil, by reducing our dependence on car travel.”

The Rowville railway line has been a contentious issue in the community since the Bracks Government failed to live up to its 1999 promise to complete a feasibility study. The railway line would offer a number of benefits over the buses that currently serve the Rowville corridor. This includes a significant boost in capacity and faster travel times.

Mr Lunn said that the route 900 Wellington Road SmartBus as an extremely poor tool for measuring the success of a future railway line as the buses get caught in traffic, among other factors. He also said that buses don’t have capacity to serve the needs of Monash University which has been promised a railway line ever since opening its doors in the 1960s.

“We, the community, do not want to hear anymore excuses,” Mr Lunn said. “Waiting to do a feasibility study based on patronage of the Wellington Road SmartBus is not an option when petrol prices are so high.”

“John Brumby needs to show he is committed to tackling public transport issues, to ensure Victoria enjoys economic stability well into the future. Building the Rowville railway line is one of the many steps he should be taking,” Mr Lunn concluded.