Rail loop proposal

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A proposed circular train route connecting Pakenham to its largest nearby townships, including Cranbourne and Dandenong, has been put to McMillan candidates ahead of the election as a long-term “solution” to divert traffic off the Monash Freeway.

South and West Gippsland Transport Group chair and South Gippsland Shire councillor Andrew McEwen urged major party McMillan candidates – Russell Broadbent for Liberal and Chris Buckingham for Labor – to commit to an integrated transport strategy and a rail loop between Pakenham, Cranbourne, Dandenong, Nar Nar Goon, Kooweerup and Lang Lang as an alternative means of minimising freeway congestion.

It bids to enable most of the 700,000 people expected to be living in that region by 2030 to be within five to 10 minutes of a train station and to address the three million tonnes of freight travelling in and out of Southern Gippsland.

But as the days before the Federal Election draw closer, McMillan candidates are yet to make a formal transport commitment to support such a rail loop.

“The almost total focus on road and freeway ‘solutions’ has led to growing and unsustainable congestion,” Mr McEwen said.

“Travel times are growing year by year, despite the massive investment in freeways. We are failing to learn from other global cities.

“The South West Transport Group is putting forward some smart transport solutions for South East Melbourne and South West Gippsland and is seeking firm commitments from these candidates.

“Our region is wholly dependent on the Monash Freeway – a situation that is untenable. The Monash is chronically choked and subject to serious gridlock. Unless we have a strategic plan and strategy, our communities and our local businesses will be severely disadvantaged.”

The National Infrastructure Audit by Infrastructure Australia has found that the cost of delays on Melbourne’s road network is expected to triple to $9 billion by 2031.

Labor candidate Chris Buckingham said he welcomed community contributions to the conversation about future transport infrastructure needs for the region.

“There is no doubt we need serious investment in public transport infrastructure, and the Federal Government has a responsibility to work with the State Government to meet the pressing needs of the community in McMillan,” he said.

“We need big-picture thinking and a long-term view on transport infrastructure needs. It makes sense to me to connect significant road centres and industrial areas.”

The current Member for McMillan Russell Broadbent said he would continue to work with the state and local government on better transport access.

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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