MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council has agreed to lobby for electric trains to run between Frankston and Langwarrin as the first stage of a service to Hastings.
The estimated $650m to $850m cost for six kilometres of double track would include parking for thousands of cars, allowing peninsula residents to park and catch a metro train to Frankston and beyond.
At its second last meeting for 2021 (7 December) the shire’s councillors voted unanimously to lobby for a two-staged approach to having an electric train service to Hastings.
Cr Paul Mercurio (endorsed Labor Party candidate for Hastings at the November state election) successfully moved that the shire “endorse an advocacy campaign” for an electrified double rail track from Frankston to Langwarrin, while still seeking state and federal money to extend the electric service to Hastings.
Cr Steve Holland, who seconded the move, said: “As far as I can tell, the only thing holding up this project is the state Labor government, all other state and federal parties are committed to the rail extension. So, any advocacy campaign is likely to centre around the state Labor candidates on the peninsula.”
At the same time as it presses for the Langwarrin development, the shire also wants the state government to improve the diesel rail service to Stony Point, with trains running every 20 minutes during peak times and 40 minutes “all day”.
Councillors also want “immediate improvements” to public transport in the Hastings area.
If it does get the green light from governments, the Langwarrin station car park and possible bus terminus would be on former Telstra-owned land in McClelland Drive, close to Peninsula Link.
In the lead-up to the shire’s changed position on primarily wanting the electric train service to Hastings, councillors were briefed by Ginevra Hosking, CEO of the lobby group Committee for Greater Frankston.
In a media release, Ms Hosking said shire councillors had unanimously supported extending the line because “they know it will form the backbone of our region’s future transportation network”.
“Electrifying the track to Langwarrin is an immediately achievable first step as there is already $225 million of Commonwealth government funds guaranteed in the federal Budget.”
Ms Hosking cautioned that the section to Langwarrin would not go ahead without the cooperation of both state and federal governments, and the state was not yet on board.
The shire council’s advocacy document highlights that there is currently no access to public transport for 82 per cent of the peninsula community.
Ms Hosking said another way of looking at it was that five per cent of Melbourne’s population “already lives beyond the end of the Frankston train line, and this number grows daily”.
“Current and future demand for public transport means that councils with vision and guts, like the shire, can get on with long-term strategic infrastructure planning.”
The council stated that, “improved rail access will provide clear benefits to our community” including “a reduction in car dependency; better connectivity and access to jobs, education, services and amenity; and improved connectivity for those with restricted mobility”.
Ms Hosking said the shire council was showing that “it understands the big picture, that transformational public transport projects like this need to get rolling so the next generation will benefit”.
“The council’s advocacy campaign will give the rail project a big boost. It’s important to have both local councils reminding today’s state and federal governments to build the infrastructure our children will rely on.”
Frankston Council too has changed its position on the proposed train extension, telling Transport Infrastructure Minister Ben Carroll last October that it wanted a “staged delivery approach, commencing with electrification … to a new Leawarra Station”. This letter also stated Frankston was “supportive of extension to Langwarrin should further investigations determine that being the more appropriate location for the first stage”.