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This Map Shows Where the Victorian Government's Proposed Suburban Rail Loop Would Travel

The ambitious project to connect all of Melbourne's existing trail lines is hoping to get federal funding with this year's election.
By Lauren Vadnjal and Libby Curran
January 22, 2019
By Lauren Vadnjal and Libby Curran
January 22, 2019

It's a common peeve for many Melburnians: the fact that catching the train to another part of town often means hauling all the way into the CBD before you can switch routes and travel back out. Well, that headache could potentially be removed, if the Victorian Government's ambitious plan for a huge underground suburban rail network comes to fruition.

In August last year (before he ran for and won the state election), Premier Daniel Andrews released a proposal for a brand new 90-kilometre Suburban Rail Loop, which would link all of the city's major radial rail lines with an intersecting orbital one, from the southeast in Cheltenham all the way to the west in Werribee.

So how will it all work? Last year, Premier Daniel Andrews posted this video that details how and where the project will operate. The proposed new line would run a loop around Melbourne's outer suburbs, connecting the existing train lines at a point outside of the CBD. The current plans have it starting at Cheltenham on the Frankston line, connecting to the Cranbourne/Pakenham line at Clayton before running through Glen Waverley and to Box Hill on the Lilydale/Belgrave line. From there it will go underground to connect to Heidelberg on the Hurstbridge line, Reservoir on the South Morang, Fawkner on the Upfield and Broadmeadows on the Craigieburn before heading to the new Melbourne Airport station that we'll supposedly have by then. From there it will head down to Sunshine, which is on the Sunbury line, before finishing up at Werribee.

Here's a new version of the map Daniel Andrews posted last week.

All this work could include up to 12 new underground stations and would provide train services to suburbs that don't currently have them, like Monash, Burwood and Doncaster. If all goes as planned, the new network would carry 400,000 people a day, which the government hopes will reduce congestion on both roads and existing train lines.

It's a huge undertaking, and one that's largely unfunded at the moment. Although the Andrews Government was re-elected in November, the project now has to find funding and be passed by parliament to begin on the proposed start date of 2022.. The State Government has only committed $300 million to it so far — but if a Shorten Labor Government gets elected at this year's federal election, it has pledged to match that amount. That takes the total to a potential $600 million, but, at the moment, the government only has $300 million to put towards a business case, design and pre-construction work. The Age has reported that, all up, the thing will cost around $50 billion; for comparison, the current Metro Tunnel project has been estimated at costing around $11 billion.

So there is still a lot of work to go to prove that the project is viable (and that's not to mention finding the extra $49,700,000,000). It's not something you want to hold your breath for. That said, the Andrews Government has been the administration to actually make the Metro Tunnel happen, remove multiple level crossings in the city's east and commit to an Airport Rail Link (although that one's not quite confirmed yet), so we'll wait to see what happens in next 18 months. We'll keep you updated.

Published on January 22, 2019 by Lauren Vadnjal


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