Rail upgrade hopes not high

A $2 billion election commitment promising to benefit Gippsland rail commuters has been met with scepticism by the Public Transport Users Association.

Premier Denis Napthine announced $2 billion to $2.5 billion would be spent upgrading the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines, delivering a 30 per cent capacity boost for one of Melbourne’s busiest rail corridors.

“People in the Latrobe Valley will see improved reliability from the Pakenham and Cranbourne package of works, with high-capacity signalling equipment to be installed on metro and V/Line trains,” Dr Napthine said.

PTUA regional spokesperson Paul Westcott said V/Line Gippsland services “compete” with metropolitan trains for track space.

Mr Westcott said if a V/Line train missed its path and was stuck behind a metropolitan train, which stops regularly, the train would “inevitably” run late.

“I think (the project) is a very positive move,” Mr Westcott said.

“But we are sceptical about election year promises regarding public transport.

“Clearly the Coalition was elected in 2010 having promised a number of public transport projects, none of which have been delivered.”

A spokesperson for Roads and Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said the State Government promised to undertake feasibility studies to progress the rail extensions to Dandenong, Rowville and Melbourne Airport.

“Those feasibility studies have quite clearly shown that we need to add additional capacity to the metropolitan train system before progressing these projects,” the spokesperson said.

Dr Napthine said the government was committed, by the end of this decade, to be building a Rail Capacity Project, including a link to the airport.