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Premier’s bold plan for Victoria’s ‘biggest ever rail project’

News, 28 August 2018
IT’S slaps on the back, high fives and “job well done” at the Victorian Premier’s office this morning after arguably his biggest announcement since taking the state’s top job. Daniel Andrews shocked the electorate and shook up the race ahead of November’s state election with plans to build a $50 billion underground rail network to revolutionise the way Melburnians travel.

The plan, dubbed Victoria’s “biggest public transport project in history”, would include 90 kilometres of new trackwork, 12 new stations and an airport link.

Importantly, it would cut out the need for travel from suburban centres through the city before connecting to other lines — a longstanding bugbear for commuters.

But hold the applause. There’s a giant criticism befitting a project of this magnitude: It’s going to take way too long to build.

Mr Andrews said commuters could expect to take a ride on the proposed line by the middle of the century. Yep, 2050.

Victorians waiting for a faster train trip will have to wait 32 years.

Provided the Labor Party is reinstated in November, work still won’t begin until 2022 at the earliest, just in time for the next state election.

“It’s a fantastic idea, but running 20 years late,” a reader told Others shared that sentiment.

“Many will be dead before it’s built,” a reader wrote.

“Thirty years is a long time for disruptive technologies to emerge that have the possibility of making this obsolete,” another wrote.

The state’s public transport minister Jacinta Allan tried to quell concerns that the project would be outdated by the time the first train departs.

“2050 is not that far off,” she said. “These big projects take time.”

The state opposition lashed the announcement, labelling it “a plan for the next generation”.

“At the moment, the Andrews Labor Government can’t say how much it will cost, how it will be funded or when it will be finished,” the Liberal Nationals said in a statement.

“They have no business case, no engineers report and they won’t rule out more sky rail across Melbourne.”

The Suburban Rail Loop is still in its early planning stage, so it’s normal for some details to remain guarded.
What we know so far is that it would link every major train line in Melbourne and carry an estimated 400,000 passengers every day.

The loop would start near Cheltenham in Victoria’s southeast and travel all the way to Werribee, 32 kilometres south west of the Melbourne CBD.

The loop would link through new stations at Clayton, Monash, Burwood, Glen Waverley, Box Hill, Doncaster, Heidelberg, Bundoora, Reservoir, Fawkner, Broadmeadows, Sunshine and Melbourne Airport.

“The suburban rail loop includes connections to major jobs precincts, universities and TAFEs, hospitals and retail centres,” a promotional video released on Tuesday explains.

“When complete, it will … take thousands of existing passengers off city-bound trains and 200,000 vehicles off congested roads.”

Mr Andrews revealed little when making the announcement on his Facebook page.

“We’ll build an underground suburban rail loop connecting Melbourne’s train lines,” he wrote.

“It will get you where you need to go, wherever you live — and that’s what our growing state needs.”