By Mikayla van Loon
With the skyrail project well underway to improve road congestion in the main thoroughfare of Lilydale, calls for the railway line to be duplicated and more station parking to be added has been high on the community’s priority list.
Unfortunately, the recent State budget did not provide funding for either of those major projects.
Evelyn MP Bridget Vallence has been urging the Victorian government to improve the parking situation at Lilydale train station, duplicate the line between Mooroolbark and Lilydale and invest in a new train station at Kinley for many months.
“As new sky rail stations at Mooroolbark and Lilydale replace boom gates with traffic lights, locals are left scratching their heads to wonder how this will actually improve traffic congestion, and on train frequency, the Lilydale train line is notorious for cancellations and poor punctuality,” Ms Vallence said in a parliamentary address on 4 March.
“Labor is spending more than $500 million to build high-rise stations when people will still have to wait at Lilydale for 25 to 30 minutes to catch a train. It’s outrageous and makes no sense.”
From community engagement and social media comments, these projects are very much wanted by Yarra Ranges residents.
Although Mooroolbark train station is set to increase car parking for commuters with a multi-deck car park, the issue of station parking at Lilydale remains the same.
The Level Crossing Removal Project has vowed to improve parking conditions at Lilydale train station by adding extra lighting and increasing the amount of sealed car parks.
With a population growth of 24,577 people over the next 20 years, Yarra Ranges Council has been lobbying the Victorian government to improve transport infrastructure in the region.
As the Kinley development anticipates housing 12,000 new residents, Lilydale is set to see a 71 per cent increase in population, with other urban areas of Kilsyth, Chirnside Park and Mooroolbark also meant to reach some of the highest population densities in the Shire.
Yarra Ranges Shire Mayor Fiona McAllister said in a Council budget and advocacy meeting with Star Mail last month that parking was an important issue in the region, opposed to more urban areas like St Kilda.
“People rely on cars out here because we don’t have great public transport in a lot of areas whereas the planning scheme is designed to cover all of Melbourne and often looks at it through a very high density, urban lens,” she said.
Mayor McAllister said things like a Kinley station and the duplication of the Lilydale line have been part of the advocacy plan for quite some time now.
“We haven’t had much joy, just like the extra railway station, that’s been a big part of our advocacy all along.”
“So it’s in the master plan, there’s land put aside but it’s not cheap to put a new station in but again all of those things, even in our public transport advocacy, it’s improving bus networks, connectivity and buses to trains, there’s lots of things we’re continually advocating for. We have some wins but it’s hard because of our tyranny of distance I think.”
Part of the Yarra Ranges’ Council Plan holds a strong focus on urban renewal projects to improve community connectivity and ensuring the best outcomes for revitalisation around the station project.
One of the main objectives in the draft council budget was ensuring roads and pathways were safe for commuters.
One win for public transport from the State budget was funding of $74.3 million for improving bus services across the state, with Lilydale, Yarra Glen and Healesville to see an increase in services on routes.