Station ‘back-pedal’

What was a clear local election promise has been put into doubt with no definite schedule to build the much awaited Southland Railway Station. Also in doubt is the credibility of costings and the reality of the project.

Bayside Leader, 11 Jan 11 @ 01:06am by Jon Andrews

Labor taunt, as government fudges start date for promised Southland rail plan

COMMUTERS, don’t hold your breath for Southland’s rail station to become a reality. The new State Government refuses to commit to a timeframe to build it.

Despite pledging a $13 million station for the retail hub before the election, project details have still not been confirmed.

The Leader asked Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder when work was likely to start, but he said no timeframe was available.

Mr Mulder denied the project had been shelved, but would not provide any construction details.

‘‘The Coalition government is currently finalising the timetable for building the new Southland railway station,’’ Mr Mulder said.

‘‘This commitment remains an important part of the government’s public transport initiatives. Further announcements will be made in due course.’’

Former Labor public transport minster and now government scrutiny spokesman Martin Pakula said this failure was one of several Liberal back-pedalling moves.

He said $13 million was never a creditable budget for the station (the ALP projected it at $45 million) and was a bogus election promise.

‘‘ The government already has their spin machine in overdrive as they realise that delivering on their policies and fixing the problems is harder than just putting together a press release.’’ Mr Pakula said.

The Public Transport Users Association, Southland owner Westfield, business groups and local councils all say a station is an urgent priority for the retail complex

From the Victorian Liberal Website, their papers imply that the station is to be built with only two platforms, and room for a couple of bus stops – the touted price of $13 million. But Southland is the home to umpteen bus routes, and has a bus interchange, which sits across the complex, across Nepean Highway to reach it from the rail line.

One could question if they have considered the nature of public transport given the increasing need for connectivity and easy of use and if we wanted to achieve these long term strategies, or was the station merely built to satisfy political aims. Similar to that of opening up the New Street Gates.

Ideally what I can attempt to assume from Labor Policy was that a full interchange would be included with the station, which I’ve highlighted the necessity from above.

But the station aside, a lot can be achieved from a seamless transition between modes of transport. But road users and centre management had in past shed concern over parking.

With increasing socio-economic development happening in the area, it is only right to work to better find public transport solutions, and I would like to strengthen the usefulness of a new station should we ever see it with a Park+Ride Facility. A win for both local community, but also for local bus services too.

If we make proper investments now we can not waste time having to endure more political meanderings over this issue which has existed somewhere around a decade. At least we are starting somewhere.