West woes in $50b rail loop plan

By Tate Papworth

Plans to build a $50 billion Suburban Rail Loop won’t alleviate the west’s transport woes, according to a transport advocacy group.

A 90-kilometre underground rail track to connect Frankston to Werribee and provide a direct rail link to Melbourne Airport was unveiled by the State Government last week.

The landmark project would connect most of the middle suburbs in the south-east and east, including universities and TAFES. But commuters in the west will only have the option of boarding the train from Werribee or Sunshine – more than 30 kilometres apart.

Western Transport Alliance chair Jonathon Marsden said significant gaps in the western suburbs’ transport grid urgently needed addressing.

“At present, only three per cent of people working in the west use public transport to get to work, and a quarter of the west’s population have no walking-distance access to public transport at all,” he said.

“Investment in a high-quality bus network for the west, including better co-ordination of existing services, would help to address these challenges within five years, rather than waiting 30 years for a public transport option to get around our region.”

Councillor Marsden said the problem will only get worse if not addressed.

“The west needs timely investment, both for the one in six Melburnians who already live here, as well as … the extra one million residents we will take on in the next 30 years.

“Our region’s lack of transport will become a significant burden for both the state and the nation.”

However, some have welcomed the rail proposal.

Sunshine Business Association president Carson Luk said he was looking forward to the “super hub” at Sunshine station.

“The super hub has the potential to play a pivotal role in creating an efficient, sustainable and smart suburb of the future,” Mr Luk said.