One Suburban Rail Loop Must Not Stop Critical Transport Projects

The election promise by the State Government to create a suburban rail loop around Melbourne, which will take decades to build at a cost of billions of dollars, is a proposal that requires further analysis.

The proposed suburban rail loop features a middle suburban rail corridor, connecting Cheltenham to Clayton, Monash University, Glen Waverley, Burwood, Box Hill, Doncaster, Heidelberg, Bundoora, Reservoir, Fawkner, Broadmeadows, Melbourne Airport, Sunshine and Werribee.

If re-elected, the Victorian Government will spend $400 million over the next four years to prepare the business case, design the project and preserve the required land for 90 kilometres of railway.

As the suburban rail loop, and other new longer-term projects are announced, it’s important that the Victorian Government doesn’t allow one major project to dominate transport planning and resources for the entire state.

Image: www.bigbuild.vic.gov.au

With regional roads in varying states of disrepair and an unreliable and outdated train system in operation, regional Victorians would be within their rights to question the validity of a $50 billion project designed to benefit one section of the burgeoning state

As identified in RACV’s Regional Growing Pains report, Victoria is already facing a backlog of road and public transport infrastructure and service projects that should not be ignored in favour of one metropolitan project.

In addition to the much-needed investment in regional roads and transport infrastructure, the suburban rail loop shouldn’t come at the cost of other critical projects that will also support Melbourne’s population growth.

RACV believes the State Government needs to spend more to boost bus services, especially in outer suburban areas where it’s the only option for many commuters. The addition of more buses, more often to rail stations, and direct express buses running every 5 to 10 minutes, would help to fix some of the gaps in the train and tram system.

Better paths for walking and cyclists would also improve transport connections around stations and major places of employment.

Victorians are still waiting for the announcement, planning and a business case for the much-anticipated Metro Two, an underground line that would run from Clifton Hill to Newport via Port Melbourne.

If the next State Government progresses the suburban rail loop, RACV will scrutinise the process and work to ensure the project delivers value for all Victorians.

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Authorised by Bryce Prosser, RACV General Manager Public Policy and Corporate Affairs, 485 Bourke Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000