THE state government has killed the prospect of a railway station at Monash University for the next decade by declaring that the Rowville rail line can only be built after two major rail projects are completed.
The news has drawn mixed reactions from public transport advocacy groups that are pushing for a university station.
In a report released last week, engineering firm Sinclair Knight Merz says their feasibility study shows that upgrades to the Dandenong rail line and the completion of the Melbourne Metro tunnel are "essential" for the Rowville Rail to go ahead.
"Without these it would not be possible to run a fully fledged service on the Rowville rail line in any case," the report said.
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The Public Transport Users Association, however, branded the need for the tunnel to be built as "nonsense".
"It's vital that we get cracking on eliminating the worst level crossings on the Dandenong line, and start work on new-generation signalling," president Tony Morton said.
"The Melbourne Metro tunnel is a great big distraction."
But Samantha Dunn, of the Eastern Transport Coalition, welcomed the report and the state government's acknowledgement that the Rowville rail was at least feasible.
Cr Dunn, who represents the Lyster Ward in the Shire of Yarra Ranges, called for the government to commit to funding so as to secure land and set timelines.
"We urge the government to take the next step and get the railway line built," she said. "The project has already been in the too-hard basket for 40 years. Delaying further will only exacerbate costs, road congestion and land use issues."
Under existing plans, in Monash, stations were to be established at the university, Mulgrave and Waverley Park. The line was to connect to the Dandenong line at Huntingdale station.
"It may be possible to stage the construction to provide train services to Monash University or possibly Mulgrave while the rest of the line is completed, but this would need more detailed planning," study author William McDougall states.
But he warned that commuters could face delays if an additional train track between Huntingdale and Caulfield was not built.
"With ever-increasing train services on other lines as well, the capacity of the City Loop will soon be exceeded; the Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel (a new twin-track rail tunnel and stations through the CBD, between South Yarra and South Kensington) is intended to address this."
Waverley Liberal MP Michael Gidley said the report vindicated the position that the upgrade of the Dandenong rail corridor was critical for Monash.
"The report obviously shows that you can't build Rowville until you build DRC (Dandenong Rail Corridor) and other rail infrastructure," he said.
Opposition leader Daniel Andrews, the local member for Mulgrave, was scathing.
"This is not what people were promised in the south east," he said. "This thing's decades off."
— with Dan Moss