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It’s a new era of Federal funding, but are these the right projects?

Sprinters at Southern CrossThe Federal Government are to be congratulated for finally putting money into urban public transport, which will cut congestion by getting cars off the road, cut emissions, and give people more sustainable transport choices. But brickbats are due to the Brumby State Government for advancing flawed projects, says the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA).

Despite the name, the Regional Rail Express project funded by the Federal government will help metropolitan train users, by separating out fast and stopping trains, allowing many more trains and better reliability. The lengthening of platforms at stations is also good news for regional and outer-urban passengers.

“But there are real doubts about the Tarneit section,” said PTUA President Daniel Bowen. “Will it really save Geelong passengers any time, and why does it appear to skirt the edges of the Urban Growth Boundary, rather than properly serving the suburbs it will pass through?

“We’d definitely have preferred a proper suburban line through the new suburbs in the west, not to mention some of the train lines the community has spent 20 years arguing for, to Rowville and Doncaster or the Airport,” Mr Bowen said. “The concern is that if not done right, all we’ll have is an overpriced pair of V/Line tracks sending Geelong trains on a long detour through the middle of nowhere, all because Connex can’t run its trains properly.”

“It’s great to see the Federal Government has recognised some of the really wasteful ideas for what they are,” added Mr Bowen. “They’ve clearly seen sense and not funded a destructive Mornington Peninsula motorway, and have only committed to ‘studies’ on duplicating the City Loop rather than giving it the green light.”

Mr Bowen hoped that the new Federal commitment to public transport would prove to be a lasting positive change. “There is a desperate need to rebuild public transport in our cities, through both targeted infrastructure and increased service provision. There is a role for the Federal Government in both – and they could definitely teach Victoria a thing or two.”