When Radika and Anuj Soog bought their property in Truganina in Melbourne’s far west in 2017, they were told the train station around the corner would be built by 2020.
- Residents in Melbourne’s far west feel alienated by a lack of investment in transport
- By 2040, the population in the region is expected to almost double
- New stations in the area have been planned for more than a decade
Five years later, they’re still waiting.
Last week, the state government announced $200 million for the next phase of planning for the Truganina railway station, as well as a new Tarneit West railway station to be built by 2026.
It is not yet known when the Truganina station will be built.
The stations were originally listed under “potential future stations” when the Victorian Government built the Regional Rail Link in 2012.
Radika Soog said the population in Truganina is booming, and locals have been calling on the state government to build these stations for years.
“People are taken for granted,” she says. “That’s what we’re discussing among our friends and neighbors.”
Ms Soog works in Footscray which is only 20 minutes away by train.
However, she said she had to leave more than two hours early to allow time to go to Tarneit train station, which is often very crowded.
“Sometimes there’s too much traffic to get into the station, so I have to leave my house at 7, 7:30,” she said.
Tarneit station is the busiest outside of Southern Cross
Tarneit station is the second busiest V/Line station in Victoria after Southern Cross, with more than 1.24 million people using the station in 2019.
The 1,000-space parking station typically fills up around 7am, and work is underway to add another 500 spaces, as well as new bike parking and CCTV.
Ms Soog said the announcement of funding for the Truganina station planning phase felt like a “slap in the face”.
“It’s like you’ve been ignored and will be ignored forever,” she said.
Ahead of next month’s state election, pollsters say voters in Melbourne’s far west are feeling neglected by a lack of services.
Wyndham City Council estimates that more than 98,000 people live in Tarneit and Truganina. By 2040 it is expected to grow to more than 180,000 inhabitants.
Mayor Peter Maynard said the council supports the construction of four new train stations along the Wyndham Vale corridor.
“If you add Wyndham and our brothers at Melton City Council into the mix, we have a population that’s larger than Adelaide,” he said.
And, he said, population growth is showing no signs of slowing down.
“We gave birth to between 110 and 130 babies every week,” Cr Maynard said.
“So there is a kindergarten in a week and an elementary school in a month.
“[The train line] should do his job.”
Years of waiting for new infrastructure
Andrew Butt, associate professor at the RMIT Center for Urban Research, said the new stations have been planned for years and are being welcomed by locals.
“The fact that this train line has languished through a large growth corridor as a V/Line with only a few stops is a major challenge,” he said.
However, more stations would not solve the problems.
He warned that more needs to be done to improve Melbourne’s outer west rail network, including electrifying the line, managing improvements around Geelong and the western side of the Suburban Rail Loop project.
He said the Tarneit corridor was the first new railway corridor in Melbourne since the Glen Waverley line in the 1930s.
“A decade later, it should do its job, and its job is to provide adequate local transport links,” he said.
“This is a great piece of infrastructure and should be used to its fullest.”
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said the government is investing in infrastructure in the West.
“They are growing communities and we will be boarding and delivering these stations along with route upgrades, new rolling stock and level crossing removal,” he said.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Matthew Guy said the government took the West for granted.
“The government had eight years to do this. You were in office for eight years,” he said.
“They have been said to be the champions of the West for eight years, but have failed to build the necessary infrastructure.”