RELOCATION of the Melbourne-Adelaide rail corridor in Horsham could cost up to $99 million.
A Horsham Rail Bypass Planning Report by consultants Aurecon has revealed the project would cost about $79 million if roads bridged the bypass route.
It would cost about $99 million if the road crossings passed under the bypass, which could save up to five minutes in travel time.
The study included a new passenger railway station and estimated clean-up work on the contaminated rail corridor would cost up to $19 million.
The report also found a potential $20-million saving for the Western Highway bypass if the rail bypass was completed before or at the same time as the road bypass.
But Horsham Rural City Council chief executive Peter Brown said moving the railway could take up to 30 years.
He said the report did not recommend any bypass routes.
“Before we could make a judgment we would really need to see where the Western Highway bypass lands and then we should give thought on whether further work should be done on the rail bypass,” he said.
“The selection of the routes in the report was purely for costing purposes and there has been no work done on where we might actually put the route.”
Council decided to focus on improving passenger rail and the existing rail corridor, rather than working on its relocation at a meeting on Monday night.
The move coincided with the release of the Horsham North Urban Design Framework, which found the rail corridor separated the neighbourhood from the rest of Horsham.
The framework, based on community consultation sessions in 2010, suggested council explore the option of expanding the Dudley Cornell precinct to include a children’s hub and a neighbourhood activity centre with a supermarket and shops in Horsham North.
It also proposed a recreation reserve with wetlands, walking trails and a pavilion on the corner of Bleakley Street and Rasmussen Road.
Cr Heather Phillips said relocating Horsham Primary School’s Rasmussen Road campus to become part of a children’s hub was a bad idea.
“To move a primary school from a relatively quiet area with a nice rural outlook and the Police Paddocks down the road to a busy road area is not a good move in the long term,” she said.
“I would hate to see elements like that in the report being chased after just because land has been purchased.
“Perhaps that Dudley Cornell area would have a better focus as a family sports precinct rather than as a primary school and children’s hub.”
Cr Tony Phelan said council should focus on the smaller recommendations for Horsham North.
“We need to be careful about getting locked into the long-term vision without thinking about the little things that can be done straight away,” he said.
“We need to look at the easy pickings because there is nothing better than council activity in the routine process to lift the confidence of the community.”
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