Melbourne Rail Link – Airport Rail Link Tunnel

Melbourne Rail Link – Airport Rail Link Tunnel:The State Government prepared no thorough business case before committing to a revamped route for Melbourne’s city rail tunnel, instead relying on “common sense”.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy made that startling admission on Thursday under questioning about why the government had dumped plans for a rail tunnel linking Parkville with South Yarra in favour of one that creates a new train station at Montague, near South Melbourne.

The government says the new station will service the planned new mega suburb at Fisherman’s Bend, despite being kilometres away from that location.

The opposition has claimed the plan is the result of last-minute panic from a government trying to save its electoral skin.

“We need to have a business case to find out whether we should put a railway station underneath an area where there’s going to be 40,000 people in the next 20 years? I would have thought common sense was the best business case in this aspect,” Mr Guy told ABC radio.

Asked repeatedly if such a business case had been conducted before abandoning the previous route for the tunnel, Mr Guy eventually answered:

“No, I have not produced out of planning, a business case for a railway station on 40,000 people … common sense would dictate that if you have population growth you need to put in place the infrastructure and the services to match.”

“We are going to put transport in the places where people live, I think Melburnians want that,” he said.

The remarks came a day after the government scrambled to sell its flagship public transport policy from this week’s budget as Premier Denis Napthine admitted the “Fisherman’s Bend” station was, in fact, located at Southbank.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, a former state Liberal leader, joined those criticising the new route, saying it was a worse result for the city than the previous plan, devised under Labor and inherited by incoming Premier.

That plan promised new stations at Parkville and North Melbourne.

The Parkville station was planned to service the city’s medial and science precinct, including the Women’s and Childrens’ hospitals and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

In February, Robert Doyle declared ignoring Parkville would be a “100-year catastrophe for the city” and the Lord Mayor continued that criticism on Thursday.

“I’m very disappointed about that,” Mr Doyle said. “Services there (at Parkville) at the moment are not adequate.

“It’s not going to be as easy for the Royal Melbourne (Hospital), the cancer centre or the University of Melbourne as if there was a station … but that’s the government’s decision.”

Instead, Mr Doyle has turned his attention to lobbying for new transport boosts. Mr Doyle said he last night spoke with Transport Minister Terry Mulder about the options.

“Terry Mulder has given me that assurance – they have got funding to enhance tram services,” Mr Doyle said.

Melbourne Rail Link-Airport Rail Link Tunnel

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