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Tarneit, Truganina commuters call on Victorian government to 'urgently' invest in train stations.

ABC Radio Melbourne - Posted Tue 1 Mar 2022 at 7:13amTuesday 1 Mar 2022 at 7:13am, updated Tue 1 Mar 2022 at 10:29am

When Mohit Tyagi and his wife bought land in Tarneit in 2016 they were told a train station would be built a few hundred metres from their new home.

Six years later, not only is construction yet to begin, there is no funding committed or concrete plans to build the train station.

When the Victorian government built the Regional Rail Link it made provisions to easily build train stations at sites including Davis Road and Sayers Road in Tarneit in the future.

Planning documents labelled them "opportunity for future rail station" and "potential future station".

Now that tens of thousands of people such as Mr Tyagi have moved into the area believing they would have good access to rail transport they have found the train stations — proposed by a state authority — have yet to be committed to.

"I feel cheated, very dissatisfied," he said.

"The future train station, the only place you can find that is on the flyers of developers, that is it."

Mr Tyagi chose to live in Melbourne's western growth corridor over south-eastern suburbs because it was closer to the CBD.

If he could access the train it would only take about half an hour to get to the city for work.

But the car park at Tarneit Station is often full shortly after 7am, and bus services are patchy.

"If you have to get to the city, even if you're starting at 10am, you have to be at the Tarneit station at 7am," Mr Tyagi said.

"Then you finish work and you come home your whole day is just gone — you have no family time, nothing."

Along with the council and other residents, Mr Tyagi is calling on the state government to build additional train stations along the Wyndham Vale rail corridor as soon as possible.

"I understand that planning and execution do take time … nothing of all that has happened," he said. 

"So for the next five to 10 years there is no hope."

'New station now'

Community advocate Preet Singh has lived in neighbouring Truganina for 15 years, and says residents desperately need better public transport. 

Preet Singh says public infrastructure isn't keeping up with all the development in his area.(ABC Radio Melbourne: Matilda Marozzi)

"When people bought all these properties, they bought it on the pretext that there was going to be a train station coming in Tarneit West," he said. 

"Now all these people have no option but to go to Tarneit Station which can no longer cope with demand."

In a petition that has attracted 461 signatures, Mr Singh called on the state government to "deliver the Tarneit West station project as soon as possible". 

"This critical infrastructure is required now, with project completion within the next two years," he said.

"We want some sort of solid commitment that the state government will build the second train station and increase the number of peak hour services on the line."

No timetable to build new stations. 

At this stage neither the Andrews government nor the opposition have committed to building new train stations on the Wyndham Vale corridor.

As part of the Regional Rail Link project, train tracks were aligned in a way that will make it easy to build train stations at certain locations along the corridor, including two in Tarneit.

In 2012 the Victorian Planning Authority published this map with several 'opportunities' for future rail stations as part of 'The West Growth Corridor Plan'.(Victorian Planning Authority)

The Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allen said her government is continuing to "explore future investments to best serve these growth areas".

"We're investing more than $20 billion in road and rail infrastructure in Melbourne's west and north west as part of Victoria's Big Build to connect these growing communities with increased rail capacity and improved roads and transport services," she said.

"This includes introducing new, longer trains to Wyndham Vale to increase passenger comfort and capacity, planning for Geelong Fast Rail, commuter car parking, and level crossing removals."

The state opposition said they were not able to comment at this stage.

Demand for new stations already there.

The population in Wyndham City has expanded rapidly in the past two decades, and there is no sign of growth slowing. 

Council estimates more than 98,000 people currently live in Tarneit and Truganina. By 2040 the population is expected to almost double to more than 180,000 residents.

With the population "growing at a rate of knots", Mayor Peter Maynard said better transport infrastructure is one of their top priorities. 

"You can see the Davis train station certainly needs to be built now because there's a population here to use it," he said.

"Council's position is that we need the Sayers Road train station in Tarneit West as a matter of priority." 

If a train station were built on this site at Davis Rd, Tarneit, Peter Maynard says it would be full almost immediately. (ABC Radio Melbourne: Matilda Marozzi)

A generation left without services.

Associate Professor at RMIT's Centre for Urban Research, Andrew Butt, said growth suburbs such as Tarneit, Truganina, Wyndham Vale, and Melton, which are currently served by V/Line, need a "genuinely metropolitan train system".

"There has got to be some urgency and prioritisation of the west," he said.

"The population growth has been absolutely huge and the service delivery model has often lagged behind, whether it be in transport, healthcare, or schooling. 

"We can see this as a long game, but for a generation of people living in these growth suburbs today it means they are not able to access the services promised."

While many of the solutions are known, Dr Butt said it is not as simple as building new train stations.

Before stations such as Tarneit West are built he said the whole train line will need to be electrified, and the management of any Geelong rail improvements needs to be addressed.

"The Tarneit corridor was the first genuinely new rail corridor in Melbourne since the 1930s, since the Glen Waverley line," he said.

"To turn it from being a V/Line bypass to a genuine suburban rail service is something that needs to happen soon, and it will involve a lot of thinking about the whole rail system and the needs of growing communities in the west."

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