5 September 2017
Call to prioritise rail infrastructure as population boom looms
A RAIL line extension to Epping North and Wollert must be built within 10 years to cope with an expected population surge of more than 120,000 people, a community group says.
The Aurora Community Association has created a submission calling for the longmooted extension from Lalor station to be built by 2027 – ahead of big population forecasts.
Whittlesea Council population estimates show the number of people living in Epping North is expected to rise from 28,000 (2017) to 55,000 (2041). It also expects the tiny populations of Donnybrook and Wollert to skyrocket over the same period from just 142 to 62,000 and 147 to 40,000 respectively.
Group spokesman Tony Francis said the rail extension would help deal with worsening road congestion by providing a major alternative to cars and buses. He said the extension was not a new idea, with evidence that previous governments had considered building it as early as 2002.
“The project has been deferred for far too long and its absence is causing worsening hardship for residents,” Mr Francis said.
“I was told by a Government spokesman the project won’t be considered until after the Metro Tunnel extension is complete (in 2027) but I find that timeframe totally inappropriate.”
The submission has been sent to the Premier, Transport Minister Jacinta Allan and Whittlesea councillors. The train line works are backed under Whittlesea Council’s transport plan.
Whittlesea Mayor Ricky Kirkham said the State Government needed to make a feasibility study for the rail extension a matter of priority. That way rail could be delivered to meet the population boom, rather than playing catch-up, he said.
Thomastown state Labor MP Bronwyn Halfpenny said she supported better public transport but didn’t think the 10-year time frame was possible.
“There are a number of projects which still need to be completed including O’Herns Rd, Edgars Rd and the duplication of High St and Epping Rd,” Ms Halfpenny said.
Opposition transport spokesman David Hodgett said Victoria needed to be continually investing in rail infrastructure to keep ahead of metropolitan population growth.
A spokesman for Ms Allan did not say whether she supported the submission.