Labor toes the Baxter line


Rail pledge: Federal shadow transport spokesman Anthony Albanese and Labor candidate for Dunkley Peta Murphy at McClelland Gallery, Langwarrin. Picture: Gary Sissons

THE electrification of the extension of the Frankston line to Baxter now has bipartisan support from both the Liberal and Labor parties.

Federal Labor shadow transport spokesman Anthony Albanese visited Langwarrin’s McClelland Gallery last Tuesday (31 July) for a Committee for Greater Frankston “roundtable lunch” and used the occasion to announce a Shorten government will “move quickly to deliver the much-needed Frankston to Baxter rail upgrade”.

The federal opposition’s pledge to back the rail duplication and electrification from Frankston to Baxter comes two weeks after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the Liberal National Coalition federal government’s promise to provide $225 million to build the rail extension.

Liberal state opposition leader Matthew Guy also promised that the state Liberal National Coalition, if elected in November, will direct $225 million to the project.

Mr Albanese’s announcement last week leaves the Labor state government as the sole hold outs in not yet committing to build the rail extension.

The state government is conducting a business case study into the project’s feasibility, paid for by $3 million in federal funding.

“Labor has advocated for the electrification and duplication of the Stony Point Line to Baxter to improve train services for commuters across Dunkley and on the peninsula,” Mr Albanese said at last week’s roundtable meeting.

“And that’s because we know the benefits of this project speak for themselves — better services, greater accessibility to public transport, reduced travel times, and more parking but most important of all, ensuring commuters get home earlier so they can spend more time with their families.”

Committee for Greater Frankston CEO Ginevra Hosking thanked Mr Albanese and federal Labor Dunkley candidate Peta Murphy for backing an expansion the region’s public rail network.

“Having both federal and state major political parties on board is needed to make this project happen quickly. Now we call on the Andrews Labor state government to provide funding for the rail extension,” Ms Hosking said.

Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors will meet their counterparts from Frankston Council tomorrow (Werdnesday 8 August) at a “working dinner” to chew over their differences in policy over the electrification of the Frankston line to Baxter.

The dinner, at Frankston Football Club, comes after shire councillors in May called on the federal and state governments to recognise the shire “as a major stakeholder”, since talks have mostly been conducted between politicians and Frankston Council.

The shire said Baxter — which lies within its municipal boundary – would be an unsuitable terminus for the electric train service and wants the line doubled up and electrified to Hastings.

State Hastings Liberal MP Neale Hastings said the electrification to Hastings would be a “stage two” process.

There is no indication of when any such second stage would begin to be built.

First published in the Western Port News – 7 August 2018


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