Infrastructure Australia has assessed the business cases for Melbourne Metro and the Murray Basin rail network upgrade and added the projects to the Infrastructure Priority List.

The Melbourne Metro has been added as a High Priority Project, and the Murray Basin rail network upgrade as a Priority Project.

Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive, Philip Davies, said, “The Australian Infrastructure Plan is very clear on the need for investment in high-capacity, high-frequency public transport services to support projected population growth in our major cities.

“With the populations of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth projected to grow by more than 30 per cent in the next 15 years, we need world class mass transit systems integrated into existing transport systems in our major cities to enable people to efficiently travel for work and leisure.”

Mr Davies said rail services into and around central Melbourne were already reaching capacity in peak periods, and in some cases passengers were unable to board trains.

“The number of people travelling by rail into the Melbourne CBD during the morning peak is forecast to grow by 65 per cent between 2015 and 2031, with patronage on lines servicing growth corridors in the city’s north, west and south east growing most quickly,” Mr Davies said.

“The proposed Melbourne Metro would address network capacity constraints by enabling 20,000 more passengers to use Melbourne’s rail network during each peak hour, and improving the reliability and efficiency of train lines serving growth areas in the city’s north, west and south-east.

“Melbourne Metro will be vital in improving accessibility to jobs located in central Melbourne—an area which accounts for around six per cent of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product.”

Infrastructure Australia also assessed the business case for the ongoing upgrade of the Murray Basin rail network as a priority.

“The Murray Basin region is a major producer of agricultural and mining goods, but access to large domestic and international markets is constrained by the poor condition of the regional rail network due to a historic underspend on maintenance.

“Capacity on the Murray Basin rail network is constrained by the mixture of broad and standard gauge lines and a 19 tonne axle load limit, which means trains cannot operate at full capacity.

“The Murray Basin Rail Project has been identified as a priority project as it addresses the fragmentation of the regional rail network and will alleviate current capacity constraints.

“This will ultimately reduce rail freight costs to business and improve the competitiveness of Murray Basin exports,” Mr Davies said.

The Infrastructure Priority List identifies nationally significant projects and initiatives in every state and territory, and is regularly updated as the Infrastructure Australia Board receives and assesses new business cases from project proponents.

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