Regional Rail Link should be reconsidered

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23 02 11 - 10:04

I just sent this off as a Letter to the Editor at The Age.

Jason Dowling’s article on the regional rail link mixes up what is mandatory with what should be reconsidered. Major new public transport infrastructure in the outer west is mandatory. But the way of achieving it should be reconsidered.

The RRL project has many flaws. It’s not going to be an electric suburban service for Tarneit and Derrimut, it won’t connect these suburbs to the Werribee CBD, it will to sever the connection between Geelong and Werribee and make the trip from Geelong to Melbourne 10 minutes longer.

Other options should be assessed. The capacity of the Werribee – Geelong line could be dramatically increased by electrifying the line to Geelong and putting in passing loops for express services between Newport and Footscray. There seems to be a strong case for extra tracks between Footscray and Sunshine, but it’s not logical that these tracks should be used exclusively for regional services – they could allow a large increase in express suburban services and would allow frequent electric services to Melton. Given funding constraints, maybe the rail connection between Werribee and Deer Park should be a second stage project, and in the meantime these new growth areas could be served by a fast frequent Smartbus service connecting to dramatically improved rail services on the existing corridors.

All these options should be on the table in the current review, and expert and community opinion should be sought before they are adopted. Now what a welcome change that would be!

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