Aus & NZ: Private money “stampede” expected to AUD 50bn rail loop

28 August 2018 - 12:00 am UTC

Victoria has announced an AUD 50bn (USD 36.7bn), 90km underground train line circling Melbourne’s suburbs and connecting 12 new stations, as well as the planned airport rail link.

Premier Daniel Andrews, in the midst of campaigning ahead of a November state election, first announced the Suburban Rail Loop plan on his Facebook page on Tuesday morning (28 August).

He later told reporters it would be Australia’s biggest transport project ever and would require substantial private sector investment.

“The private sector will absolutely be stampeding to be part of this,” he said. 

“When you think about all the different opportunities with all those new station precincts there will be very significant interest from the private sector and of course there will need to be a state contribution from a strong, well managed budget.”

The state has initially set aside AUD 300m to undertake the full business case, geotechnical surveys, engineering design and community consultation. This work will begin in 2019 if the Andrews government is re-elected.

The line would run from the south-east of the city near Cheltenham and connect to the planned airport rail line in the north-west of the city.

Construction is expected to begin by the end of 2022, although Andrews said the government would begin earlier if they can. It is not expected to be fully complete until 2050.

The first stage to be built would be the section from Cheltenham north about 20km to Box Hill.

The airport rail line, construction of which is also due to get underway in 2022, and the existing Werribee line will form the western part of the circle from the suburbs of Sunshine to Werribee in the west of the city.

The south-east section will be underground between Cheltenham and Box Hill with new tunnels connecting to the Frankston, Cranbourne-Pakenham, Glen Waverley and Belgrave-Lilydale lines.

As for the north-east section, it will link the Belgrave-Lilydale line to the Hurstbridge, Mernda, Upfield and Craigieburn lines before heading to Melbourne Airport.

Specific details of the station locations, routes, rolling stock and staging will be firmed up via the full business case and technical work.