Melbourne traffic will grind to a halt without this

Large tunnel machine with city workers nearby.

Sue Hewitt

Posted August 16, 2019

Infrastructure Australia report projects Melbourne traffic to double by 2031.

RACV has called on the state government to commit to a second metro rail tunnel to ease Melbourne’s congestion in the wake of a damning report on the city’s infrastructure planning. 

Infrastructure Australia’s audit of the nation’s assets found Melbourne and Sydney will come to a standstill, with gridlocked traffic expected to double by 2031. 

While the $11 billion Melbourne Metro Tunnel project is already under way, the city’s rail system will need additional wholesale improvements in the near future, says RACV senior planner StuartOuthred. 

The second rail tunnel should be at the top of the list when considering a “congestion busting” plan for Melbourne, he says.

Stuart says it is time the government developed a holistic, integrated transport plan for Victoria, and that a second tunnel linking Clifton Hill and Newport via Fishermans Bend should be a “top priority”.

The Infrastructure Australia audit found that although a huge number of road and rail projects were under way in Melbourne and Sydney, these would not prevent the cities grinding to a halt in the future due to congestion and poor public transport access.

Stuart says Metro Two presented an opportunity to help avert traffic gridlock in Melbourne and it made sense to start planning for this project while the first tunnel was being built. 

“There’s good logic in using the smarts, capability and talent that has been poured into Metro One, such as engineers, geo-tech specialists, economists and more, to start working on what Metro Two will look like,” he says.

“Let’s not wait to do the due diligence. We should be sophisticated enough in Victoria to be thinking about more than one project at a time, just like in London where they are on the front foot planning for and designing Crossrail Two while Crossrail One, the Elizabeth Line, is still under construction.”

The second rail tunnel would provide the Fishermans Bend precinct with the mass transit it needs, he says. Fishermans Bend is expected to develop into one of the state’s most important employment and education precincts, with 80,000 jobs and a similar number of residents, universities, advanced manufacturing, emerging industries and more.

The tunnel would also address the lack of access to Melbourne’s west. “Access to and from the west has been historically neglected, and Metro Two will give people from the western suburbs direct access to the central city and growing, high-value employment precincts in Fishermans Bend and Parkville.”

RACV’s general manager of public policy, Bryce Prosser, agrees the second tunnel should be a priority to ease congestion.

“While the Metro One tunnel is under way, plans need to be developed for its sister project to help deliver the infrastructure our growing city needs,” he says.

“Congestion will continue to be a fact of life for many Melburnians well into the future if we don’t have a clear transport strategy for our booming city. 

“As Melbourne continues to grow and the outer suburbs continue to attract more people, our public transport networks must keep pace and reach well beyond the CBD so that every Melburnian has access to a fast, convenient and high-quality system.” 

Bryce says safer cycling and walking paths as well as greater public transport options would provide commuters with genuine alternatives to get home quicker.