The State Government has announced this year's budget will include $3million to kick off the planning for a new tram / light rail line which would use the Dandenong Road and Wellington Road corridors and link Caulfield, the Monash employment cluster & university and eventually Rowville.
It is anticipated the new tram line would be built in two phases between Caulfield & Monash University and then between Monash University and Rowville.
The Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan, said that using a vehicle such as the E-class tram which has a capacity for 200 passengers, if the new line were to run a tram every 4 minutes, that could move 3000 people per direction per hour.
Rowville has had a rail line study before, initiated and tabled under the previous state government, and while much of that report is about to be superseded, its lessons still hold.
Under the original Rowville study, it was assumed the line would only have a frequency of a train every 10 minutes in peak and would include stations at Huntingdale, Monash University, Mulgrave (Springvale Road), Waverley Park and Rowville.
Assuming a heavy train capacity of 1000 passengers, the Rowville heavy rail line, as studied under the previous government, would have a capacity of 6000 passengers per direction per hour in peak.
On paper, it might seem that trams have an inferior carrying capacity, however many new light rail systems around the world are using vehicles - like E-class trams - in pairs, linked together like a train, thus increasing capacity.
Throw in the fact that the capital costs for a light rail line system will most certainly be cheaper than a heavy rail system, any previous the benefit-cost ratio will shift - especially as smaller vehicles will provide higher frequencies.
The new planning work looks set to take a year and will study the best place for stops, alignments, costs, benefits and service patterns.
At the same time, the Victorian Planning Authority is in the final stages of its work on the Monash National Employment and Innovation Cluster which identified Wellington Road as a corridor that required investigation for rapid public transport.
It is unclear whether the public will have the chance to have their say on any of the aspects of the project.