Many Victorians had hoped the election of a state Labor government signaled an end to the East West Link and the dawn of a new age of public transport projects, with the Andrews government committing to start building the $11 billion Metro Rail Project in 2018.
Now, federal Liberal MPs from Melbourne’s outer east are trying to resuscitate the East West Link. On August 8 they held a small rally with the demand “Build the Link”.
But where is this headed? Anti-East West Link campaigners are not sure how to respond. Andrew Kelly from Public Transport Not Traffic called on the Liberal Party to clarify its public transport plans and indicate whether it intends taking the East West Link to the next election. “I think it’s pretty clear that you can’t build the East West Link and Metro Rail at the same time,” he said.
Anti-East West Link campaigner Tony Murphy said public transport campaigns need to continue and the government should focus on upgrades to the whole public transport system, not just the Metro Rail project. He was critical of the way the state government has been portraying its plan for grade separations of rail crossings as a public transport measure, when these are intended to make road transport run more freely.
Moreover, the Andrews government is also intent on building what is, in effect, the western section of the East West Link. The western section is much more popular with locals, as it could remove trucks from suburban streets. It may, however, strengthen the case for building the East West Link.
So, don’t throw out your “Trains not Toll Roads” signs just yet.