Monday, May 18, 2009

It Looks Easy on a Plan But Will Never Happen

Below is a story that appeared on the Age website calling for an extension of the train line that ends at the Showgrounds to be extended to Highpoint Shopping Centre and the proposed suburb to be developed on the old munitions plant in Maribynong.

Here is the report:

Call for little-used line to service new homes
Jason Dowling
May 18, 2009
THE dual railway line to Flemington Racecourse and Royal Melbourne Showgrounds is being wasted and should be extended three kilometres to a planned new suburb on the Maribyrnong River, a former lord mayor says.

Kevin Chamberlin said extending the line would allow it to service 3000 homes planned for the suburb and the Highpoint Shopping Centre, potentially taking thousands of cars off inner-city streets.

"This section of the railway line is scandalously under-utilised given it is dual track and it is used two periods a year at the spring racing carnival and the royal show," Mr Chamberlin said.

Last month, Premier John Brumby announced plans to build a new suburb on the 128-hectare former Department of Defence explosives factory site next to the shopping centre.

"If there is no public transport into the city, good developments like this will falter because there is no direct rail link to the city," Mr Chamberlin said.

He said that with an existing rail line for 60 per cent of the distance to the city, a rail link to the new suburb was a prospect worth considering.

New stations could be situated at Victoria University and the shopping centre, and the line could be extended to East Keilor.

A rail link would improve the value of the Government-owned housing site at Maribyrnong. "They would actually earn more money out of the development," he said.

The suburb is expected to be built in 10 years.

Maribyrnong Mayor Michael Clarke said extending the rail line was an an excellent idea.
"To better utilise a poorly utilised piece of rail infrastructure is going to be to everybody's benefit," he said.

Cr Clarke called on the State Government to conduct a study to test if the extension was viable.
Public Transport Users Association president Daniel Bowen said extending the line made sense.
"Highpoint Shopping Centre, like most of our major shopping centres is flooded with cars — shoppers driving round looking for parking," he said.

"For a rail line, it doesn't get much use, it would make sense to open up those suburbs to the rail network and get more people out of their cars and on to trains."

He said an extension of the line should be incorporated into the construction of the new suburb.

"People need those transport options when they move in, not 20 years afterwards, otherwise they will buy a car for every adult in their household and they will drive everywhere, adding to congestion," Mr Bowen said.

OK. I can tell them the answer now. Nope. Some reasons why:
  • Highpoint and the proposed development already have several tram routes in the area;
  • The cost of the rai line would be massive. A bridge over the river, tunnel through the hill, land acquisition;
  • The delay in time between an idea and implimentation (Sth Morang has been kicked around for decades and only now is to be constructed)

So as I said. A nice idea but it will never happen.


Jayne said...

That's a damn shame (and yes, it always comes down to $) as there's actually a third track, currently used as a siding at the Showgrounds end, so there would be little time lost with disruptions, signal breakdowns (ahem!), etc.
Again the railway map from 1940 shows how much land would have already been owned and easily converted with extended track work.
But you can see HERE how they sold off and got rid of the extensive railway network that once existed.

dam buster said...

Jayne - It is the way of the world. And honestly I think that areas that have no suitable services should be a priority over locations that already have tram services.

The route that they are talking about is already developed and a very tricky bit of terrain.