Melton railway line needs to be duplicated and electrified within the next five to 10 years, Infrastructure Australia has asserted.
An upgrade of the line is one of only two public transport projects identified as priorities for Victoria by the national body.
Greens MP Colleen Hartland, Melton MP Don Nardella and Melton mayor Kathy Majdlik have called on the state government to fund the upgrade in its coming budget.
“I don’t understand why the government isn’t just moving on with [the upgrade],” Ms Hartland said. “The benefits are enormous – not just for Melton but for getting cars off the road, giving people a choice … and it has benefits for Deer Park and Ardeer.”
Ms Hartland said Melton was no longer a country area and its services needed to reflect that.
“Melton is growing at an extraordinary rate,” she said. “I can see this being incredibly beneficial for people going into the city for work or school.”
Mr Nardella said he was committed to working with Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan to solve the area’s public transport woes.
“The need is there even more now,” he said.
Mr Nardella said he would welcome Melbourne Metro putting the upgrade on the agenda again as it was vital for the city, for both daily commuters and for connecting people to other services and appointments.
The upgrade of the line has also been identified as a priority by Melton council as part of the National Growth Areas Alliance’s Fund Our Future campaign.
Cr Majdlik said she hoped Infrastructure Australia’s report would convince the state government to commit to duplicating and electrifying the line as soon as possible.
But Ms Allan would not confirm whether the line upgrade would be included in this year’s budget. She said duplication of the line was part of the second stage of Public Transport Victoria’s [PTV) network development plan for the next decade.
But she conceded services along the Ballarat corridor would increase substantially.
“Last year, the government delivered the largest public transport investment in Victoria’s history … further investment will be announced as part of this year’s budget,” Ms Allan said.
PTV was contacted for comment.