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Friday, May 10, 2013

A light rail service for Drysdale?

The Victorian state government is investigating the viability of a rail service between South Geelong and Drysdale.

This has emerged from the state government's budget for 2013-2014, which includes this small item:
'The Government is investigating the viability of rail services between South Geelong to Drysdale and Grovedale to Torquay.' ('Budget Papers: Regional and Rural Victoria'. p5)

On first reading, the budget appears not to say how much it will spend on the study; watch this space for more detail.

For some time, DCSCA has been calling for a study into the viability of a light rail service connecting Geelong and the Bellarine. We have said consistently that traffic management is linked inextricably with economic development, because in the absence of a growing local economy, new residents will be forced to commute elsewhere. We've argued that the local economy needs to grow in ways that will provide people with real choices over where they work; that will stem the tide of wealth and talent flowing out of our towns and into Geelong and Melbourne; and that will rein-in the ever-increasing amounts of greenhouse gases produced by commuters' vehicles.

A light rail service on the Bellarine would reduce local petrol-based traffic and, in the process, create new local jobs. Here are a couple of possibilities:
  • A light rail service between Geelong and Drysdale. This service could be extended to Queenscliff, to link with the ferry; and the service could also be extended to Portarlington if another ferry service starts there.
  • A light rail 'Circle Line' running around the Bellarine and through each town (including ferry terminals), with a 'spur' connecting it with central Geelong and another 'spur' connecting it with Torquay.
DCSCA's interest in light rail is part of its program Going Green on the Bellarine, which aims to develop the local area as a showcase of tomorrow's 'green' economy. 

So while it's good to see the state government taking an interest, let's not assume that a rail link, by itself, will contribute to the growth and development of the area.

See earlier articles on the issue on this Blog:
'Planning for traffic and jobs' (8 October 2011)
'Our region's future - have your say' (25 November 2011)
'Thunderous reception for G21 "Listening post".' (13 December 2011)