12 December 2017
Plan to purchase properties on corridor puts rail line on track
A TRAIN line connecting Lalor to Epping North and Wollert has taken a “major step forward” with the State Government set to snap up land that could pave the way for works.
The Government has set aside $3.8 million from a statewide developers’ contribution fund for the purchase of six properties on the Wollert Transport Corridor.
The corridor could be used for a range of options, including an arterial road and a busway, but it is expected the purchase will fast track the construction of the estimated $600 million train line.
Thomastown MP Bronwyn Halfpenny stopped short of confirming the corridor would be used for rail but said “it appeared to be heading that way”.
“The acquisition of this land is a major step forward for the train line to be built,” Ms Halfpenny said.
Aurora Community Association spokesman Tony Francis said building the rail must be the priority.
“I fear if they build a busway then it will remain like that and we won’t get the rail,” he said.
The announcement came after the Leader saw a Whittlesea Council paper that stated Transport for Victoria was actively seeking to buy properties on land set aside for the corridor.
The paper stated the body was “endeavouring to purchase properties in the designated rail corridor as they become available”.
The six remaining properties, which are all in Epping, make up 14 per cent of the total land set aside for the corridor.
It is unclear if the department will use a public acquisition overlay to acquire the land.
The interim business paper also estimated the rail project would cost $600 million to build and gave a proposed finish date of 2024.
Rail Futures Institute president John Hearsch said it was a strong indication the extension could soon be completed.
“It would be odd for the Government to purchase properties unless they intended to build on it,” he said.
Whittlesea Mayor Kris Pavlidis said she had not been formally advised of the land acquisition but would “welcome any news of the project progressing”.
TFV did not respond to requests for comment.