Media Releases | 14th Nov, 2001

Where is the LaTrobe Valley fast train project heading?

Wednesday, 14th November 2001

On October 1, the State government announced the successful consortiums that would bid for the country works packages for the Traralgon Fast Rail Project.

The bids are to be designed around the tender specifications produced by the Department of Infrastructure’s Rail Projects Group.

Environment Victoria is now asking “Where is the Fast Train Project Heading” and finding that unless some hard questions are asked by local communities the project could be steered in a direction that is not in the best interests of public transport users. Will the tenderers be able to develop a network that best suits the region’s needs or will they be constrained from delivering a ‘best practice network’ because the requirements in the tender documentation are not adequate?

“This community needs an active voice now. Network design must take into account a number of local proposals for a Latrobe Valley shuttle train service and a faster hourly rail service to Melbourne that only stops at major towns. Tenderers’ designs, however, are limited to tender specifications which are based on a couple of extra fast express services
in the peak periods, supplemented by the regular and inadequate V/Line timetable,” said Wendy Everingham spokesperson for Environment Victoria’s Regional and Rural Transport Campaign.

“This scenario offers only a couple of fast, non stop peak flyer services as far as Pakenham, that travel at current speeds the remainder of the way into Melbourne. There appears to be no planned upgrade of metropolitan bottlenecks.”

This is not the ideal outcome. The government’s current plans will only benefit a small group of travellers from Traralgon, rather than the widest possible mix of country and metropolitan travellers.

Tender specifications for the project will be finalised on December 14th. “If the Latrobe Valley wants a truly usable rail network we suggest urgent representations to the government. Especially we ask where the LaTrobe City Council stands. Civic leadership is needed now. The current project direction would result in many disappointed rail travellers and reduced patronage growth because the service levels will not meet community expectations or give the Valley the maximum economic boost”, concluded Wendy Everingham.