Tram extension support stops in its tracks

Current Koornang Road railway crossing. Where the Tramline would intersect. Photo by Stephaine Rayner.
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Lobbying for extensions of a major tramline in the south-east Melbourne suburb of Carnegie has begun, with residents concerned over an increase in congestion and traffic. Stephanie Rayner reports.

 

Carnegie residents are lobbying to stop plans to expand major tram expansion over fears it will disrupt traffic and impact on local businesses.

The Public Transport User’s Association is pushing to extend the route 67 tramline beyond the current Truganini Road tram junction up Koornang road to create a new “major mode interchange”.

The proposal comes as a response to the existence of missing ‘tram links’, “places where tram lines stop short of nearby hubs and transport nodes”, according to the PTUA.

The PTUA is a non-government group aiming to improve the public transport offered in Victoria, through the lobbying of governments and public transport authorities.

Fears have risen over the prospect of this tram extension, following the tram works that have taken place on Bridge road in Richmond.

The extension of the tramline resulted in the removal of on-street parking, which has greatly affected stores along the once major shopping strip.

Shop vacancy along Bridge road was recorded at 15 per cent according to research done by Savills Australia, up 1.4 percent from last year.

Similar fears of a reduction in customers exist for Koornang road, should the tramline be extended, which would put pressure on businesses that already have slim margins.

Proposed extension up Koornang Road. The red exhibits where the extension would go. Image from Google Maps.

While there has been negative feedback from residents of Carnegie, some see the extension as a logical public transport decision.

Andrea Barlow, a local resident, said: “I reckon it would be a brilliant idea. Once the Skyrail goes in it would make sense.”

She discounted concerns over an increase in traffic and congestion saying, “It’s hard enough in Koornang Road anyway. I don’t think a tram would make it more difficult.”

Carnegie Trader’s Association’s Graeme Callen said the position of the CTA was not yet formalized and would require evaluation on the impact the tram would have before support could be given.

Although he did comment on the plans, Mr Callen did however say: “Koornang Road already carries a significant amount of traffic. A tram would increase congestion by interrupting traffic flow. It would probably also require a reduction in on-street  parking…which would be detrimental to business.”

Funding is likely to be difficult to obtain at this time as $1.6 billion has been given to the Sky Rail project, and is understood to be unlikely for smaller projects.

The PTUA said: “Governments tend to prefer constructing major projects,” which makes support for this extension unlikely.