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Rail planning on track

By Brittany Freebairn

THE Mernda rail extension received its first allocation of State Government funding in last week’s budget.

The State Government has committed $9 million for 2015/16 to develop a business case, undertake site investigations and begin land acquisition and other project development work.

South Morang and Mernda Rail Alliance spokesman Darren Peters said he was happy with the announcement.

“Labor said before the 2014 election that they would allocate the necessary funds for planning in their first budget and the balance of funds for construction in the following budgets, so they have kept their promise,” Mr Peters said.

“We look forward to next year when funding for construction will be allocated to extend rail from South Morang to Mernda.”

In Parliament on Wednesday, Opposition MP David Hodgett argued the Labor Party promised “work — not planning” during the election campaign for the rail extension. When asked what his definition of works was, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said: “Land purchases, clearing works, siting, tenders and engaging early works contractors”.

Yan Yean state Labor MP Danielle Green said the funding allocation mirrored the rollout of the South Morang rail line extension.

“This is exactly how we rolled out the South Morang rail extension (in 2008). The balance of the total project was funded in 2009,” she said. When asked what her definition of work was, Ms Green said: “Just as you can’t build a house, school or shopping centre without a design plan, you can’t build a Mernda train line including stations, carparks, bus interchanges, tunnels or bridges without one either”.

The extension was a plank of the Access Denied campaign by the Whittlesea Leader, City of Whittlesea and South Morang and Mernda Rail Alliance.

Source: Whittlesea Leader

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