End of the line for Rowville rail excuses

Commuters have called on the Brumby Government to stop making excuses for the lack of progress on Rowville railway line and to simply fund it. The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) says commuters are sick and tired of hearing the same old Government rhetoric when action is what is needed.

A feasibility study done for the City of Knox, completed in 2004, indicated that building the railway line is quite practical.

“The government needs to get its transport priorities right and fund Rowville rail immediately,” said Jeremy Lunn, the PTUA’s Outer East Convenor. “It is just not good enough to keep snubbing outer eastern residents when they’ve been waiting patiently for effective action over so many years.”

Mr Lunn has dismissed the government’s frequently-repeated excuse about needing to wait for patronage data from the route 900 Wellington Road SmartBus before making any decision.

“The SmartBus has been operating for over a year and a half now. They’ve had plenty of time to do their evaluation.”

Mr Lunn also warned that relying on patronage figures from a bus service is not adequate, because just looking at the bus service will not provide completely valid data.

“You have to look at total travel demand in the area, including all modes of transport, not just the current restricted bus service,” he said.

It is clear that the current bus service lacks capacity, given that at least 22,000 students are studying at Monash University in Clayton.

“The railway service will provide the sort of capacity that no bus service can match, as well as quicker travel times. And the Wellington Road SmartBus doesn’t have a complete network of other frequent bus services linking into it. So there are many factors which severely limit the bus’s patronage.”

The PTUA has also slammed the government’s excuse that there is a lack of capacity on the current rail system to cater for the Rowville extension. Mr Lunn said that the PTUA has looked closely at this claim and finds it lacks validity.

“Rowville trains would only be sharing tracks with express trains on a short section between Oakleigh and Caulfield. The Government is already proposing extra trains on the Dandenong line terminating at Westall, only two stops from Huntingdale, where Rowville trains will branch off.”

Mr Lunn said that these additional train services could operate to Rowville.

“With high petrol prices that residents in the outer east are being forced to endure, Mr Brumby needs to provide a genuine alternative. A full feasibility study needs to be completed including detailed designs for Rowville railway line.”