Media Releases | 2nd Apr, 2008

Fast-track rail plans, dump road plans

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Public transport improvements are the answer to Melbourne’s transport congestion problems – not more roads, Victoria’s peak environment group said today. Environment Victoria’s Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham welcomed the proposals in Sir Rod Eddington’s report released today that would lead to upgrades and extensions of the public transport system.

“With Melbourne’s public transport system bursting at the seams due to increasing patronage, there is a clear need for new public transport infrastructure,’’ Mr Wakeham said. “With climate change and rising petrol prices here to stay Melbournians need a transport system that will help us cope with these challenges into the future.”

However, Mr Wakeham warned that the two new rail lines recommended were only the beginning of necessary network extensions.

“The proposed Footscray to Caulfield rail link would be a welcome addition. But an inner city connection must be accompanied by the extension of services to the outer suburbs and growth areas that are currently without any services whatsoever.

“The proposed Western Line through Tarneit would improve services in some western growth areas, but there will be many people in places like Doncaster, Rowville and South Morang who will be bitterly disappointed by Mr Eddington’s recommendations.

“There are serious public transport black-holes in some areas of Melbourne that are repeatedly neglected by the government. The East West Needs Assessment is a start, but Melbourne needs a comprehensive vision for our future transport needs that fully considers climate change and rising petrol prices.”

Mr Wakeham said Environment Victoria does not support the proposals for a road tunnel through Melbourne’s inner areas.

“Decades of freeway expansion have proven that more roads don’t solve congestion,’’ he said. “A new freeway would add millions of tonnes of greenhouse pollution every year for decades to come and would not be contemplated by any Government seriously committed to tackling climate change.

“The solution to freight problems is to provide quality public transport alternatives for commuters, ensure freight trucks are full to maximise efficiency and work to get more freight onto rail. Building a new East-West Freeway would be complete overkill when public transport alternatives have been overlooked for decades.

“Environment Victoria urges the Brumby Government to adopt the parts of the Eddington plan that will demonstrably reduce greenhouse pollution and reduce Melbourne’s car addiction, and reject plans for new roads that will transfer congestion to different parts of Melbourne.’’