The Andrews Government in the Australian state of Victoria has promised to start work on a new underground rail network circling Melbourne’s suburbs, if it is re-elected in the coming polls.
Touted to be the biggest transformation of public transport in Australian history, the Suburban Rail Loop will connect all major train lines from the Frankston line to the Werribee line through Melbourne Airport, and will have up to 12 new underground stations.
The Labor Government, in the last four years, has taken up the biggest transport building programme ever, removing level crossings and fixing roads and rail across Victoria.
However, it said that the century-old radial transport network is not able to meet the requirements of a rapidly growing Victoria.
The Suburban Rail Loop will connect the suburbs with major employment centres, universities and TAFEs, hospitals and retail precincts, and reduce congestion across the entire transport network.
Labor Government said that it will invest $300m in a full business case, design and pre-construction works. Work on the first section in Melbourne’s south east is expected to begin by the end of 2022.
The underground south east section will run between Cheltenham and Box Hill, and new rail tunnels will link the Frankston, Cranbourne-Pakenham, Glen Waverley and Belgrave-Lilydale lines.
This section is expected to include six new underground stations – four underground interchanges with existing lines, and two new stations at the Monash Clayton and Deakin Burwood precincts.
The government said that the north east section will connect the Belgrave Lilydale line to the Hurstbridge, Mernda, Upfield and Craigieburn lines before heading to Melbourne Airport.
In addition to the four interchange stations, new underground stations in Doncaster and the La Trobe precinct in Bundoora are likely to be constructed on these lines.
Construction on the new Airport Rail Link, which will be the north-west section, will begin in 2022. The western section will connect to the Werribee line through the new Sunshine super-hub.
Three new super-hubs will be established at Clayton, Broadmeadows and Sunshine, providing better access to jobs, education and health outside the CBD.
Experts at Development Victoria, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the Office of the Coordinator General have taken up early planning and feasibility work, including identification of the project corridor, over the past 12 months.
The first section is expected to be completed in 10 years.
Image: An airport rail link train in Australia. Photo: courtesy of Victoria State Government.