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What’s behind the lights?

New tram push for Fishermans Bend

10 Sep 2019

New tram push for Fishermans Bend Image

By Sean Car

A new alternative tram route to Fishermans Bend from the Domain interchange via the Montague Precinct is being pushed by the Fishermans Bend Business Forum (FBBF).

It comes amid the state government’s current planning work for “potential” tram services between Fishermans Bend and the CBD, for which it allocated $4.5 million towards in its 2019/20 budget.

While the government’s preferred option is a connection from Collins St over the Yarra River through Yarra’s Edge in Docklands, the state’s current infrastructure squeeze and tighter timeframes mean that all options are back on the table.

The government’s Fishermans Bend framework legislated last year forecasts 80,000 residents and 80,000 workers in the precinct by 2050, however it is still yet to confirm any new public transport initiatives.

The FBBF this month submitted a proposal to the Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan and the Fishermans Bend Development Board, which would see a new tram route from the Domain Interchange where Anzac Station is being constructed.

The “Wirraway Service” would travel along the existing tram route on Park St currently used by tram 58, but would continue across Kings Way along Park St to connect with existing tram 1 lines. 300 metres of new tracks would be required for this section.

The tram would then continue along Park St up to Montague St, turn right and continue along to Dorcas St before turning left and continuing up to Ingles St and past the western end of the Montague Precinct.

From here it would intersect with the existing 109 tram between the CBD and Port Melbourne, where the FBBF proposes the establishment of a “major interchange” for passengers travelling to Spencer and Collins streets.

“The tram would continue along Ingles, crossing Williamstown Rd and turning left into Fennel St,” the FBBF proposal continued. “This may require a slight realignment of the property on the corner of Fennell and Ingles to take of the sharpness out of the turn.”

“From this point on the route would follow the current proposed Plummer St route.”

While FBBF executive officer David Weston acknowledged that the proposal didn’t provide a direct connection with the CBD, he said it did eliminate the need for the “significant cost of a West Gate Freeway overpass.”

“The introduction of the Melbourne Metro Tunnel offers a realistic alternative for the Plummer St tram that would not add to congestion on Collins St,” he said.

“Savings would be achieved by removing the need for the costly overpass over the West Gate Freeway and the required acquisition of a number of privately-owned properties.”

The FBBF proposal also highlights the benefits of connecting with the “multi-modal” Domain Interchange at the future Anzac Station, with a significant portion of employees in Fishermans Bend currently commuting daily from Melbourne’s south-east suburbs.

The $4.5 million allocated in the budget to planning and the developing a business case for active transport and tram connections between Fishermans Bend and the CBD has been largely focused on exploring a “Yarra River crossing”.

However, with the state government having forecasted delivery of a new tram route to Fishermans Bend by 2025, the construction of the costly tram bridge over Yarra’s Edge appears increasingly unlikely to meet that timeframe.

In response the FBBF’s proposal a spokesperson for Minister Allan said: “Planning work for a tram link to Fishermans Bend continues as part of overall precinct planning.”

“Fishermans Bend is Australia’s largest urban renewal project and this process will help us explore the most appropriate solution for the people who will work, study and live in the area.”

Member for Albert Park Martin Foley said the state government welcomed the constructive engagement from the business community on the preferred route to Fishermans Bend, but that its proposal was missing a “key objective”.

“As valuable as the southern route into Anzac station is (and integrated planning of southern tram routes into and across the existing communities is underway) the proposal misses the key objective of linking the University of Melbourne’s engineering campus and other areas of the employment and future industries precinct into the public transport grid,” Mr Foley said.

“That university and knowledge industries project remains the state’s priority as we look to provide certainty and security to the management of Fishermans Bend’s future.”

“We will continue to work with all groups in the community to land the best solution for the public transport/accessible future of the biggest urban renewal project in the nation while ensuring the interests of the local community remain paramount to that project.”

While describing the proposal as a “clever idea”, Montague Community Alliance convener Trisha Avery said the creation of a major interchange at Ingles St would only add to existing strain on 109 and 96 tram lines.

“We support building greater infrastructure for the growing areas, but this route won’t do much to us, as Montague is already well served by public transport.”

“As the 109 and 96 are already among the busiest tram routes in Melbourne, adding another major interchange would just add to the busyness and noise.”

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