THE fate of South Yarra train station has Stonnington councillors wringing their hands in frustration, as state bureaucrats press on with the contentious Melbourne Metro Rail project.
Cr John McMorrow said the fact the station was overlooked for a upgrade in the Andrews government’s rail plan — which is set to receive $1.5 billion in next Tuesday’s state budget — was “absolutely absurd given the population growth in the area.”
“What can we do at this early juncture to influence state government policy?” he asked the council’s chief executive, Warren Roberts.
Mr Roberts said he had met with Melbourne Metro Rail Authority chief executive Evan Tattersall and the authority was “very aware of the council’s position regarding South Yarra station”.
Cr McMorrow also reported back on this month’s Metropolitan Transport Forum meeting, presented by Yarra Trams chief executive Clément Michel, at which he was the council delegate.
Cr McMorrow said Mr Michel’s presentation contained “nothing that benefited Stonnington” and that he raised the topic of a new tram route to Chadstone shopping centre — but it “didn’t seem likely”.
He said while the number 8 tram would be discontinued, the 55 and 57 trams would run along Toorak Rd, so that “we lose a tram, but gain two”.
But Prahran Greens MP Sam Hibbins told the Leader this was far from an adequate solution, as it would involve “merging two tram lines which are at capacity”— lines eight and 55.
Mr Hibbins has been advocating for the state government to extend its tram procurement contract to have an extra 50 new trams built, including increasing services on the number 8 line.
He called for $19 million for new trams to be “made available right away” in today’s (MAY 5) budget.
Mayor Melinda Sehr has previously said the omission of a South Yarra station upgrade in the government’s $11 billion rail plan “defies logic” given the growth of passengers.
The station is one of the state’s busiest and is surrounded by sites earmarked for apartment development, with more than 3000 new dwellings on their way to the adjacent Forrest Hill precinct.
DID YOU KNOW?
■ South Yarra Station services four lines with nearly 50,000 passengers every week
■ The station has not had a proper upgrade in decades and is plagued by long peak-hour queues
■ Commuters and the council have been lobbying for an extra concourse and entrance from Yarra St
■ The former Liberal government’s rail plan included an underground station at South Yarra.
■ The Andrews government has not revealed what it will do with South Yarra station, but its rail lan does not include an upgrade
■ The government has also not responded to speculation its new tunnel could rerout Cranbourne-Pakenham services to skip South Yarra and Richmond to travel directly from Hawksburn to Domain, one of five new stations to be built
■ The Public Transport Users Association spokesman Daniel Bowen wants the government to investigate an interchange at South Yarra as part of the Metro Rail project
■ The latest data on station patronage, from 2011-12, shows that South Yarra is one of Melbourne’s busiest stations, with 8344 entries each weekday, including 2268 during the morning peak.