Market Sectors, Passenger Rail
A future train line to the Melbourne airport will utilise the under-construction Melbourne Metro tunnel, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed on Saturday.
The route was confirmed along with a start date for construction and a forecast completion date of 2029. Read more
The Victorian government is under pressure from the Commonwealth to accept a proposal for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link which would see the line privately owned and operated, according to a report.
The MARL, with an estimated price tag of $15 billion, has so far had matching $5 billion commitments from both federal and state governments. A plan from private consortium AirRail would offer the remaining $5 billion needed, but as part of the offer the consortium would own and operate the tunnel.
The Age is reporting this week the federal government is pressuring Victoria to go ahead with the deal, but that Victorian officials are averse to the prospect of a privately owned and operated tunnel being added to the city’s Metro Trains and the region’s V/Line network.
The airport link would connect with the planned Geelong fast rail via a new rail tunnel to Sunshine, and federal urban infrastructure and cities minister Alan Tudge says the MARL is important for the federal government’s vision of the Geelong project.
AirRail Melbourne would see some of Victoria’s transport providers partner with IFM Investors, a global fund manager with $112 billion.
The Victorian government is reportedly considering a cheaper, above ground alternative which would consist of building new tracks as well as utilising the existing railway line from the western suburban junction to the CBD.
Passenger Rail, Research & Development
The Victorian Government’s 2019–2020 Budget includes a $100 million boost to the Western Rail Plan.
The investment is intended to fund planning and design works to separate the regional and metro services on the Geelong and Ballarat lines as part of a wider plan to deliver fast rail to the regions. This separation will avoid situations where V/Line trains are slowed down by Metro trains, allowing for faster and more frequent journeys.
Rail Projects Victoria (RPV) has started a program of investigations and technical studies along the Melton, Werribee, Wyndham Vale and Geelong corridors, with staging of the Western Rail Plan being considered alongside the Melbourne Airport Rail Link business case, due for publication in 2020.
Committee for Ballarat chair Nick Beale welcomed the investment in a statement, saying the works were “in line with Committee’s stated aim of duplicating the line between Ballarat and Southern Cross, which includes electrification and quadruplication of the line to Melton. Once the work is complete, it will result in a noticeably faster trip to Melbourne.”
The Western Rail Plan sets out investment plans for three connected rail projects, including the creation of two new metro lines leading west to Melton and Wyndham Vale; increased rail capacity between Melbourne’s CBD and Sunshine; and upgrades on the Geelong and Ballarat lines to allow trains to run faster than 160km/h.
The creation of the metro lines to Melton and Wyndham Vale will separate the two areas from the Ballarat and Geelong lines, with Wyndham Vale also proposed as the potential western section of the Suburban Rail Loop, which is expected to cost at least $50 billion, with a pencilled completion date of 2050.
The Andrews Labor Government is due to meet with representatives from Melbourne suburbs for consultations on the first stage of the Suburban Rail Loop.
Labor will meet with representatives from the suburbs of Whitehorse, Monash and Kingston to discuss first-stage implementation of the proposed corridor for the $50 billion project’s South East Section. The talks will include consultation regarding ecological and geotechnical studies
The Victorian Government looks to be on its own in delivering the ambitious rail project, after Labor was defeated at the federal election over the weekend. Labor leader Bill Shorten had made a commitment to provide $10 billion for the project.
Billed as Australia’s largest ever public transport project, construction on the Suburban Rail Loop is currently pencilled for a 2022 start and may not be completed until the 2050s.
The project involves construction of a new underground rail line that will connect several Melbourne suburbs to the city’s existing major lines so that improving connectivity and reducing commuting times. The line will run 90km from the Frankston line in the southeast to the Werribee line in the west via Melbourne Airport in the north.
Initial site investigations have been proposed for the second half of 2019, but the final number of stations has yet to be determined.
“The Suburban Rail Loop will change the way we move around Melbourne forever, and we’re not wasting a minute getting this vital project started,” said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
“It will create and support local jobs and slash travel times, getting people where they need to go.”