Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) — My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Public Transport. I am seeking action in relation to Northern Metropolitan Region’s crowded South Morang train line. While we passed a motion yesterday calling on the government to increase express services on the South Morang train line, my understanding is that that may not occur until the Mernda extension is completed — until another 8 kilometres is put onto that South Morang train line — and unfortunately my constituents are not able to actually get on the trains now.
We know that Melbourne’s north is one of the fastest growing areas in the country. South Morang itself is growing by 170 people every week. Mernda, Epping, Preston and South Morang all fall amongst Melbourne’s highest growth suburbs, and population density is increasing significantly along the length of the South Morang line. As I said, passengers just cannot get on the trains. When I spoke to a constituent who had heard the debate yesterday, he told me the story of how there is a gentleman in a wheelchair at his train station and people actually have to get off the train halfway through their journey to enable this poor fellow in a wheelchair to get on the train. I think it is very kind of those commuters to get off the train — and hopefully get on the next train into town — but as I said, this is an urgent matter, so I am asking the minister to not only consider the express services, as mentioned in the motion yesterday, but also to increase the frequency of train services on the South Morang line.
The Andrews Labor Government is making significant investments to support growth across the Victorian rail network, including the South Morang catchment. The $600 million Mernda Rail Extension will build eight kilometres of new, duplicated track and three state-of-the-art stations at Mernda, Hawkstowe and near Marymede Catholic College.
The stations are expected to be used by around 8000 passengers every day when they open. We are also funding the Hurstbridge Line Upgrade project, which includes track duplication between Heidelberg and Rosanna to increase service capacity on the Hurstbridge and South Morang lines. By removing a significant bottleneck on the Hurstbridge line, services can be optimised, with flow-on benefits for the South Morang line.
The 2017-18 State Budget provides a further $5 million in development funding for Stage Two of the Hurstbridge Line Upgrade project, which will determine the requirements for further capacity upgrades on the Hurstbridge and South Morang lines.
While there are no current plans to run express services on the South Morang line, the timetables associated with the Hurstbridge Stage 1 and Mernda extension projects will seek to provide additional services on the line.