Passenger Rail

Melbourne Metro Tunnel receives highest assessment from IA

Melbourne Metro cutaway - Photo Victorian Government

Infrastructure Australia has positively assessed business cases for both the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project, and the Murray Basin rail network upgrade.

The January release of IA’s latest Infrastructure Priority List has added the Metro Tunnel as a High Priority Project, the highest level of assessment.

The cross-CBD rail tunnel project joins the Western Sydney Airport and M4 and WestConnex motorway projects in NSW, the M80 Ring Road upgrade in Victoria, the Ipswich Motorway Rocklea-Darra Stage 1c project in Queensland, and the Perth Freight Link in Western Australia on the High Priority Projects list.

“The Australian Infrastructure Plan is very clear on the need for investment in high-capacity, high-frequency public transport services to support projected population growth in our major cities,” IA chief executive Philip Davies said.

“Rail services into and around central Melbourne are already reaching capacity in peak periods, and in some cases passengers are unable to board trains.

“The number of people travelling by rail into the Melbourne CBD during the morning peak is forecast to grow by 65% between 2015 and 2031, with patronage on lines servicing growth corridors in the city’s north, west and south-east growing most quickly.

“The proposed Melbourne Metro would address network capacity constraints by enabling 20,000 more passengers to use Melbourne’s rail network during each peak hour.”

Meanwhile, the ongoing upgrade of the Murray Basin rail network was added to the Infrastructure Priority List as a Priority Project, the second-highest level of assessment.

The Murray Basin project is joined in the Priority Projects tier by the Inland Rail project, a pair of M1 Pacific Motorway projects in Queensland, the Bringelly Road Upgrade Stage 2 project in NSW, and the Eyre Infrastructure road project and Adelaide-Tarcoola Rail Upgrade in South Australia.

“Capacity on the Murray Basin rail network is constrained by the mixture of broad and standard gauge lines and a 19-tonne axle load limit, which means trains cannot operate at full capacity,” Davies explained.

“The Murray Basin Rail Project has been identified as a Priority Project as it addresses the fragmentation of the regional rail network and will alleviate current capacity constraints. This will ultimately reduce rail freight costs to businesses and improve the competitiveness of Murray Basin exports.”