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FOOTSCRAY residents who may lose their homes in a compulsory acquisition process started by the state government last week have been told they won't know for two months if their houses will go.
The news comes as the Department of Transport says it does not know how many trains will run on the Regional Rail Link project when it is completed.
This is despite the $4.3 billion project having been planned for the past two years.
The new set of rails, which will run from Werribee to Southern Cross Station, are designed to give dedicated rail space to V/Line services, so that country trains no longer mix with slower suburban services.
The cost of consultants hired to design the new rail line appears to be spiralling, with seven of the 30 consulting companies employed having renegotiated their contract with the government in the past year.
Among those to have secured extra money from the Department of Transport is KPMG, whose $500,000 contract was bumped up to $1.5 million.
Another, Coffey Rail, was to be paid $141,000 for work on signalling, but will now get $1 million.
At a meeting last night in Footscray, organised by local Greens MP Colleen Hartland, about 100 residents whose houses are likely to either be demolished or affected by the new rail line said they had been left bewildered by the lack of process surrounding the compulsory acquisitions.
''People have been left completely unsupported at a time of absolute vulnerability. They want to know their legal rights,'' said Ms Hartland, who arranged for several property lawyers to speak at the meeting.
Houses in the strip of Footscray earmarked for demolition have been bought and sold as recently as six weeks ago, and at least two owners who got notices of possible acquisition are midway through renovations.
A $20 million Salvation Army aged-care hostel in Buckley Street that is being built close to the existing rail line is due for completion in September. It too could also be partly demolished.
Others, such as Victoria Street resident Milos Pelikan, are outraged that the demolition of other peoples' homes means a new elevated section of rail track will be built just metres from their houses.
He and five neighbours will now be left on an isolated pocket of land.
Residents became aware last Monday their homes would likely be compulsorily acquired for the rail line, after being first told about it by reporters.A spokeswoman for the Department of Transport, Ilsa Colson, said: ''We expect to know the full extent of the land we require in September.''
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