Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, unveiled plans for a $50 billion underground Suburban Rail Loop connecting Melbourne’s train lines.

The Suburban Rail Loop will link every major rail line from Frankston to Werribee and create access to outer suburbs while bypassing the city – connecting suburbs with major employment centres, universities and TAFEs, hospitals and retail precincts.

When complete the loop will carry 400,000 passengers a day, taking people off city bound trains and 200,000 cars off major roads by 2051.

Labor will invest $300 million in a full business case, design, and pre-construction works, with work on the first section in Melbourne’s south east expected to begin by the end of 2022.

The south east section will run underground between Cheltenham and Box Hill – with new rail tunnels linking the Frankston, Cranbourne-Pakenham, Glen Waverley and Belgrave-Lilydale lines.

This section could include six new underground stations – four underground interchanges with existing lines, and two potential new stations at the Monash Clayton and Deakin Burwood precincts.

The north east section will connect the Belgrave Lilydale line to the Hurstbridge, Mernda, Upfield and Craigieburn lines before heading to Melbourne Airport.

In addition to the four interchange stations on these lines, there will be potential new underground stations in Doncaster and the La Trobe university precinct in Bundoora.

The new Airport Rail Link will form the north-west section, with construction also underway from 2022. The western section will connect to the Werribee line via the new Sunshine super-hub, with further technical investigations to determine the scope and route of this section.

Regional Victorian passengers will be big winners, with three new super-hubs at Clayton, Broadmeadows and Sunshine providing better access to jobs, education and health outside the CBD.

Exact station locations, route alignment, rolling stock, and staging will be confirmed through the full business case and technical work, including extensive consultation and environmental assessments.

Early planning and feasibility work, including identification of the project corridor, was undertaken by experts at Development Victoria, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the Office of the Coordinator General over the past 12 months.

A project of this massive scale – amongst the largest in the world – will be built over multiple decades, with the first sections expected to take around ten years to construct.

In his speech at the Committee for Economic Development’s State of the State 2018 address, that marked 100 days to the state election, Mr Andrews said the new program will “stretch over decades, creating new industries and tens of thousands of direct jobs and building the modern moving connected Melbourne and Victoria that we all need.”

“This is exactly what we need in terms of something new and something different that will deal with congestion.

“Our train system is built at the moment based on everyone going to and from the city and that’s just not the way our city and suburbs work.

“This is the sort of rail system that all the great cities of the world are building.

“It’s not good enough to ‘extend’ the congestion, we need a plan that doesn’t just force more cars and commuters into the city.

“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 for you.”

The Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan, said the Suburban Rail Loop is the underground train system a growing Melbourne and Victoria needs – connecting every Victorian to jobs, education, hospitals and shopping without needing to change trains in the CBD.

“Finally, Victorians will be able to catch public transport across and around the city – taking thousands of people off existing trains and slashing road congestion with up to 200,000 cars off our roads.”

Business case development, detailed design and community consultation will commence in 2019, with work on the first stage expected to begin by the end of 2022.

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