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By BRIDGET COOK

AN extension of the rail network to service the Cranbourne East and Clyde area could be at least 20 years away, according to a new blueprint.
Public Transport Victoria (PTV) last week released its blueprint – the Network Development Plan, Metropolitan Rail – for the expansion of the metropolitan rail network across the state.
While the plan lists increasing the capacity on the Dandenong rail corridor, used by Casey residents, as one of the priorities, it could be up to 20 years before the extension of the Cranbourne line out to Clyde is considered.
City of Casey Mayor Amanda Stapledon said while the ambitious blueprint sets out the plans for the rail network over the next 40 years, it does not provide the immediate rail improvements that residents of the City of Casey require.
“Council recognises that PTV has attempted to address issues across the entire metropolitan rail network, but for the 270,000 residents of Casey, this strategy doesn’t deliver the urgent public transport upgrades needed in Casey in a timely manner, including a rail extension of the Cranbourne line and train stations at Cranbourne East and Clyde,” she said.
“With a current population of 62,800 in just the Cranbourne growth area and 4100 residents moving into the area each year, we had hoped that the State Government would have made a commitment to undertake works to Casey’s train network in the short term.
“While council welcomes the recognition of the need for a rail extension from Cranbourne to Clyde, under the strategy this will not be considered for another 20 to 30 years.”
Cr Stapledon said residents of the Cranbourne East and Clyde area needed to be able to catch a train close to their homes.
“The State Government has allocated vast amounts of land to be brought within the Urban Growth Boundary, people have moved in and, ultimately, basic transport services are needed by residents including local buses, adequate roads and an accessible train network,” she said.
City of Casey transport manager Paul Hamilton said it was concerning that the rail strategy had been released in isolation of the Melbourne Metropolitan Planning Study.
“A plan of this calibre should effectively address the needs of Casey’s growth areas and this strategy, in its current format, does not,” he said.
“Clearly the preparation of the Melbourne Metropolitan Planning Strategy now needs to rethink the extent of development that can occur in the south east of Melbourne if the State Government’s blueprint for rail infrastructure has declared it can’t service the region in the foreseeable future.”
A PTV spokeswoman said that increasing capacity on the Dandenong rail corridor was one of the top priorities in PTV’s plan.
“In the short term, PTV is aiming to increase capacity on the Dandenong rail corridor with new, high capacity trains that can carry more than 1100 passengers and eventually up to 1600 passengers,” she said.
“The delivery of the Melbourne Metro project and Dandenong corridor upgrades in stage two of the plan will provide a further boost to capacity and provide the foundation for further extensions into growth areas, not just in Casey but in other growth areas across Melbourne.”
The spokeswoman said the first two stages of PTV’s rail plan over the next 10 years will allow PTV to keep up with growing demand on the Cranbourne line.
“This is followed by new infrastructure to build the required capacity on the line in stage three, making an extension to Clyde possible in stage four,” she said.
“This plan carefully considers how many extensions can be made to the network at any one time, prioritises areas based on expected population growth and includes a detailed program of train procurement to ensure there are enough trains to meet the demands of new lines and more services.
“In stage four – in the next 20 years – a line extension to Clyde would provide relatively quick access to central Melbourne for the growing community and provide the opportunity to establish a large stabling and maintenance facility for the line.
“This new two track extension from Cranbourne to Clyde would require grade separation of the South Gippsland Highway, a new double-platform terminus at Clyde and installation of high capacity signalling.”

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