Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has announced next week’s state Budget will include a $1.5 billion commitment towards the planned Melbourne Metro Rail Project.
Andrews announced on Tuesday that the Budget, which is set to be announced next Tuesday, May 5, will include $1.5 billion for anticipated planning, design and significant early works for the project, which is expected to commence construction in 2018.
The funding also provides for land acquisition, preparations for the Expression of Interest and Request for Tender stages of the development, and significant early works such as tram rerouting and service relocations, the premier’s office said.
Once early works have been completed, a contract will be awarded for major construction of the tunnels needed for the rail link.
“Melbourne Metro Rail is the biggest public transport infrastructure project in Australia,” Andrews said, “and the biggest overhaul of our public transport system since the City Loop.”
Andrews was joined by minister for public transport Jacinta Allan, to make the announcement.
“To build underground tunnels, you need to know exactly what’s under the ground,” Allan said. “That’s what geotechnical testing is telling us.”
Allan and Andrews made the announcement from the project’s first geotechnical testing site since the project was last being prepared (before being cancelled), by the prior government.
140 boreholes will be drilled between South Kensington and South Yarra over the next few months. The testing, which will build on work done in previous efforts to deliver Melbourne Metro, will provide critical data about ground conditions and soil quality.
“Melbourne’s new underground rail network will move 20,000 extra people in peak hour,” Allan said. “The previous Liberal Government abandoned it, but Victoria needs it.”
The Andrews Government is developing the Melbourne Metro Rail Project instead of the East West Link tollroad project, which was kicked off by the previous government.
Andrews made national headlines earlier this month when he announced that the contractors signed on to deliver the East West Link had been dismissed at the cost of at least $339 million.
Just days after the formal cancellation of the road project, Andrews and Allan announced the preferred alignment of the Melbourne Metro Rail Project, with twin 9km tunnels set to run under Swanston Street through the Melbourne CBD.
“Aligning Melbourne Metro with Swanston Street is better for passengers and taxpayers,” Andrews said at the time.
“Confirming the preferred alignment and not proceeding with the Liberals’ East West Link means we can get on with the project our state needs and the project our state voted for: Melbourne Metro Rail.”