Transport plan cuts spark calls for review of ‘extravagant’ Eddington Tunnels

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has called on the State Government to make spending on suburban rail extensions the State’s highest transport infrastructure priority, following reports that the State Government would scale back spending on its upcoming transport plan.

PTUA President Daniel Bowen said the State Government should reconsider its plans for the expensive Eddington road and rail tunnels, in favour of extending the rail network into poorly-served suburbs.

He also said called on the State Government to “independently investigate” proposals to make better use of existing rail tracks in the inner city, through a combination of better running practices and smaller improvement projects.

“If there’s less money to go around, it’s even more important that we spend it wisely,” Mr Bowen said. “Based on actual costs of recently completed projects in cities like Perth, a range of rail extensions could be built into Melbourne’s outer suburbs for a fraction of the cost of one of Eddington’s tunnels.”

“We should be choosing public transport before roads as our highest priority — and then aiming for the biggest bang for our buck — which is not something that the ‘headline’ tunnel projects are likely to deliver.”

The PTUA has repeatedly called on the State Government to investigate options for making better use of existing city railway tracks, so that the Eddington tunnels are not built at the expense of suburban rail extensions.

“The State Government is yet to show it is serious about getting greater capacity out of the existing rail network. It seems to be more concerned about making rationalisations for Eddington’s tunnel vision,” Mr Bowen concluded.

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A report from the PTUA in 2007 highlighted a range of cost-effective upgrades proposed for the rail system, including operational changes, service upgrades and the following rail extension/electrification projects:

Huntingdale via Monash University to Rowville
Victoria Park to East Doncaster
Epping via South Morang to Mernda
Broadmeadows to Melbourne Airport
Cranbourne to Cranbourne East
Sydenham to Sunbury
Sunshine to Bacchus Marsh
Frankston to Baxter

The full report is available at:
http://www.ptua.org.au/publications/melb-rail-on-track/

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