Victorian opposition commits to extending Cranbourne line if elected in November

Victorian Liberal opposition leader Matthew Guy has promised that if elected to government in November, he would pursue an extension project for the Cranbourne line to Clyde in Melbourne's outer south-east.

Matthew Guy announced that a price tag of $457 million is what it would cost to extend a dual track railway south-east from the current terminus at Cranbourne to Clyde with two new stations, one at Cranbourne East and a new terminus at Clyde.

The extension would follow the path of the former South Gippsland line that was closed by the Kennett Government in the 1990s. 

No new level crossings would be created as part of the extension project.  There are 5 roads which cross the former South Gippsland railway line corridor between Cranbourne Station and the former location of Clyde station, which presumably would be where the new station would go.  The roads are:

  • South Gippsland Highway, immediately next to the existing Cranbourne terminus.
  • Narre Warren-Cranbourne Road.
  • Broad Oak Drive.
  • The intersection of Casey Fields Boulevard and Berwick-Cranbourne Road.
  • Clyde-Five Ways Road.

The opposition leader wants to change transport habits in the outer south-east.  "Extend the railway network now, put it in place now, and [change] people's habits around public transport now rather than hoping in 20 years time they leave their car", Matthew Guy told 9 News Melbourne. 

Cranbourne station would be rebuilt as the railway line would be lowered under existing roads reports The Age and the Herald Sun reports the mostly single-track section of the Cranbourne line between Dandenong and Cranbourne would be duplicated after the extension to Clyde has been completed.

Analysis & comment

Two of the Andrews Government's level crossing removal projects are under construction in the region.  Thompsons Road is being lifted above the rail corridor next to Merinda Park station and the railway line is being lifted over Abbotts Road in Dandenong South.

The logic of extending the railway line to Clyde doesn't fail any pub test simply because this would extend the Cranbourne line out to the Urban Growth Boundary in the south-east however it is curious that the opposition leader said the extension will happen first before the duplication of the Cranbourne line.

We now know that extra capacity will be 'baked in' to the Cranbourne line as it along with the Pakenham line - as well as the Sunbury line when the metro tunnel opens - will have a dedicated fleet of trains which will have more capacity than any sub-fleet that currently operates Melbourne's services.

And because of this capacity boost - in train size, not frequency increase - it doesn't throw up any red flags at this stage as at least there is a commitment to duplicate the in-use tracks in future.

The only issue is how this fits in the grander scheme for Melbourne's future railway network.  The sitting member in Cranbourne is retiring at the November election - and you might have guessed, the seat is marginal - and clearly, the opposition want to make a contest out of it.

I don't begrudge a political party exploiting opportunities such as that but just like the government in office, the focus is on the small local issues without giving any impression on how larger network-wide issues will be sorted.

Lead image credit: Matthew Guy on twitter.

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