The preliminary business case for the extension of the Frankston Line to Baxter on the Mornington Peninsula has been released.
The business case assesses a number of options for improving public transport usage in Frankston and the wider peninsula, while increasing social and commercial activity in Frankston.
The option of creating passing loops on the Stony Point line and new stations at Tyabb and Bittern is indicated as the preferred option. The possibility of electrification to Baxter or Langwarrin, while having higher a higher cost benefit ratio, would cost more and have greater impacts, the business case sets out.
Currently, Melbourne’s electrified network terminates at Frankston, with diesel-hauled services continuing to Stony Point. The report notes that the infrequency of services on the Stony Point line means that car use in the area is high and public transport use is concentrated at Frankston Station, causing constraints on parking in the vicinity of the station.
An upgrade of the rail line without electrification under the Stony Point Uplift option would also provide additional rail services for the communities of Somerville and Hastings, who would miss out on the benefits of electrification to Baxter.
The federal government, which contributed $3 million to the business case, is pushing for the electrification of the Frankston Line to Baxter and has committed $225m to the project. The business case estimates the total cost of electrification to Baxter to be between $1.3 to $1.5bn.
“Delivering a metro rail line extension south of Frankston will help open up the whole of the Mornington Peninsula, meaning locals can get to work and get home sooner and safer,” said Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge.
The Victorian government has not confirmed a preference for any of the options outlined in the preliminary business case.
“The Commonwealth has indicated that their preferred next stage is a detailed business case, but has not yet provided the funding or approached Victoria to undertake that work,” said a Victorian government spokesperson.
“We’ll continue to work closely with the Commonwealth on our combined infrastructure commitments.”
The Committee for Greater Frankston, a grouping of local businesses and the Frankston city council, criticised the business case as “Orwellian”.
“It’s time for the state government to start properly planning to construct this vital public transport project,” said CEO Ginevra Hosking.
Public transport connectivity to Frankston is listed as a priority initiative by Infrastructure Australia, with initiatives for improvement including optimising the existing bus network, increasing bus frequency and coverage, or funding upgrades to rail services and infrastructure.
The Victorian government spokesperson said that the state government was already making significant investments.
“The Victorian government is already spending $3bnon projects along the Frankston Line that pave the way for an extension to Baxter – removing 18 level crossings, building 12 new stations and creating new stabling for 24 trains at Kananook that is a pre-requisite for any extension of the line.”