ACA response to Minister’s reply on Wollert train line

ACA Email
12 January 2018
Aurora Community Association

In early November 2017 the Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan replied to Craig Ondarchie’s question in the Legislative Council on 7th of September 2017 “Can the minister tell me when the commencement of the train line to Epping North and Wollert will occur?” The answer referred to current major government transport projects with the comment that “These projects will unlock potential for future rail extensions, including a potential future line to Wollert” (see website http://www.aurora.asn.au/2017/12/minister-allan-on-wollert-rail-line/).

Since this reply, there has been important news of the State government drawing on an estate developers’ fund that will enable the unacquired land for the Wollert Public Transport Corridor to be acquired (see website http://www.aurora.asn.au/2017/12/wollert-train-line-a-step-closer/). This acquisition substantially reduces the chances of the rail line being unnecessarily delayed and helps guard against the cost of unacquired land rising prohibitively. Completion of the rail line as soon as possible is highly preferable as worsening road traffic congestion is nearing breaking point for many commuters just trying to get to work every day. This only adds to residents stress and degrades living standards. Further Victorian government announcements on how estate developers funds are to be used to improve transport services in the Epping North and Wollert precincts will be most welcomed.

The Victorian Infrastructure Plan, which was released on 18 October 2017, refers to completing  ‘a feasibility study within 0-5 years for creating a high-capacity transport link (rail or bus) connecting growth areas around Wollert to the rail network and on to central Melbourne.’ Completion of this feasibility study is urgently needed within a year as discussed at website http://www.aurora.asn.au/2017/11/call-to-fast-track-wollert-train/.

The feasibility study, which could be partially funded through the estate developers fund, could also build upon the valuable information Whittlesea Council has already obtained on liveability issues and future population growth forecasts in the Whittlesea City precincts of Epping North and Wollert. This would strengthen the case for why a train line to Wollert is required sooner rather than later. While there have been claims that transport needs are more pressing in the electorate of Yan Yean, there are undoubtedly differences in demographics that are playing a part in how residents are able to communicate issues to council and government. For instance, only 5.8% of Doreen precinct residents speak languages other than English in the home, compared to 52.5% for Epping North residents (see the Whittlesea Council’s ‘Demographic Profiles of Precinct Areas in the City of Whittlesea’ at website http://bit.ly/2uuVzlR p. 46 and p. 70), suggesting many North Epping/Wollert residents would be unfamiliar with local political processes and thus feel unqualified for the debate on how local infrastructure and transport can shape the built environment around them .

Clear direction from the Government on the process for building the Wollert Train Line is now required. It is essential that this project be fast-tracked to ensure all existing and future residents can enjoy what many already take for granted in greater Melbourne and to Get Epping Moving.

Aurora Community Association
12 January 2018

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