NEARLY two-and-a-half years since South Morang Station opened following the 3.5 kilometre extension of the railway line from Epping, the Victorian Government last week announced it will spend $3 million to construct a new car park with up to 300 spaces.
The existing car park has a capacity of 450 and regularly fills by 7.30am, leading commuters to use nearby car parking such as at the Whittlesea Council Civic Centre and Plenty Ranges Arts and Convention Centre or creating informal parking on nearby vacant land.
The new car park will have a compacted rock base, lighting and a footpath along McDonalds Road connecting to the station. The $3 million has been allocated from Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution fund.
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said the new car park will bring the number of car spaces at South Morang station to almost 750 and will better service the rapidly growing region on Melbourne's northern fringe and the estimated 20,000 daily users of the station.
South Morang has been the nation's fastest growing suburb over the last 10 years and had a population of more than 19,000 in 2011. The station also services the approximate 20,000 residents in the nearby growth suburbs of Mernda and Doreen, which together are expected to grow to more than 50,000 residents by 2021. The South Morang and Mernda Rail Alliance has long been advocating for the rail line to be extended to Mernda.
Dr Napthine added that the government recognises the strong demand for car parks in the vicinity of South Morang station, and in consultation with the City of Whittlesea, is currently in negotiations with a number of local land owners with a view to providing several hundred more car spaces in addition to those already announced.
As well as the 3.5 kilometres of new rail tracks from Epping to South Morang and new premium station at South Morang, the $562 million South Morang Rail Extension project also included 5 kilometres of rail track duplication between Keon Park and Epping, redeveloped stations at Thomastown and Epping, an upgraded train maintenance facility at Epping and a number of other improvements.