THE state government’s plans to connect Melbourne’s suburban network in a loop from Werribee to Cheltenham, incorporating a major interchange hub at Sunshine, is another win for those wishing for an airport rail link through the western suburbs.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said the future $50 billion Suburban Rail Loop project would connect with the planned airport rail link which the state government hopes to sign off on a business case in the coming weeks.
Ms Allen said it was hoped the airport rail business case could be announced in coming weeks once the state government had had an opportunity to brief new federal transport and infrastructure minister Michael McCormack on the project.
Ms Allan said the suburban loop would build on the upgrades of the Ballarat line and give more choice to regional travellers not wishing to come all the way into the city.
She said it was a hoped a business case on the loop project could be undertaken in the next term of government should Labor be returned in November.
The Suburban Rail Loop is being billed as “the biggest public transport project in Australian history” and is expected to take up to 30 years to complete.
The western section will connect to the Werribee line via the new Sunshine super-hub with other super-hubs to be built at Broadmeadows and Clayton.
A strategic assessment has been undertaken by Development Victoria, supported by Rail Projects Victoria with the proposed Airport Rail Link to form the north-west section.
The next steps needed is a full business case, planning and technical studies and stakeholder consultation to determine the exact route, delivery method and funding models.
Premier Daniel Andrews said: “The Suburban Rail Loop will get people to where they want to go – and more people on public transport means less traffic on the road”.
Rail Futures Institute spokesman Bill Russell said with Melbourne’s population expected to double between the years 2010-2050, a project of such scope was needed.
However he remained cautious about the details, suggesting said an overall infrastructure model was required rather than a singular project approach.