Expert calls for rail link revival


Cade Lucas

A leading transport expert is calling for the western rail plan to be revived following the release of a report which found almost half of Melbourne residents lacked access to public transport.

An analysis conducted by the Climate Council, Next Stop Suburbia: Making Shared Transport Work for Everyone in Aussie Cities, was released on Monday highlighting how a lack of public transport and a reliance on cars was creating congestion and pollution.

While the report found 52 per cent of Melbourne’s population did have access to regular public transport, the second best result among Australian cities behind Sydney, access dropped dramatically more than 15km from the CBD, an area that includes much of the western suburbs.

Institute for Sensible Transport associate director Liam Davies, peer reviewed the report.

He said a long term solution for public transport access in Melbourne’s west would be a rail line connecting Werribee and Wyndham Vale stations.

“That would give a rail link from Werribee to Sunshine,” said Mr Davies, adding that land for the connection has been set aside.

Connecting the Werribee line and Regional Rail Link was part of the western rail plan announced in 2018, but which is now in limbo after successive budget cuts.

Mr Davies said building the Werribee to Wyndham Vale rail link would be transformative for commuters in Wyndham, Brimbank and Melton.

“It would give a direct quick connection for people living in Sunshine to Werribee that doesn’t involve driving or getting a bus and being stuck in traffic,” he said.

“It would also connect out to some of the areas near Caroline Springs which would then connect out to Melton and what that would do is it would strengthen both activity centres (Werribee and Sunshine) as employment hubs by allowing more people to go to and from those areas, so it would build the interrelation between the two hubs while strengthening each one individually.”

Mr Davies said connecting the two lines would give commuters another option if there was a delay on either line, rather than having to catch replacement buses as they do now.

The state government was contacted for comment.