May 19, 2013

Melbourne Metro: It’s time to get it done

Today I’ve reaffirmed the Federal Labor Government’s strong support for the Melbourne Metro as well as our willingness to work with the Victorian Government to deliver this vital $9 billion nation building project.

Indeed, in last week’s Federal Budget we took another major step towards making
this new line a reality, allocating $3 billion to the project to be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Victorian Government.  To attract the balance of the required funding from the private sector, further long term Federal and State funding would be provided in the form of ‘availability payments’.

Federal funding of $40 million had previously been provided to assist in the planning.

Following a decade in which train patronage rose by 70 per cent and in light of predictions that Melbourne’s population will hit 5 million residents by 2025, no project is more important to the City’s future than the renewal of its urban passenger rail network.

According to Infrastructure Australia – the independent body that assessed and recommended it as a ‘ready to proceed’ project of national significance – building the Metro would:

“…benefit the entire Melbourne metropolitan rail network by creating more rail capacity in the inner-city to relieve pressure of existing congestion [and] boost the number of suburban services across the network to accommodate projected growth.”

What’s more, the potential benefits of this project are not confirmed to the rail network.  As well as easing congestion along the St Kilda tram corridor – one of the busiest in the world – completion of this new line has the potential to spur major redevelopments across inner-city North Melbourne.

The project would involve building a 9-kilometre tunnel extending from South Kensington to South Yarra and a new station at Arden Street.  This transformative project would provide capacity for up to 19 extra services and 20,000 additional passengers per hour.

The Metro would also complement the new, largely Federal-funded Regional Rail Link now being built between Southern Cross Station and West Werribee – the largest public transport infrastructure project currently underway anywhere in the country.

Federal Labor’s approach to building more productive, sustainable and liveable cities involves investing in both their road and rail infrastructure. If not tackled in such a balanced way, traffic congestion will end up costing our economy some $20 billion a year by 2020.

 

That’s why we’ve doubled the roads budget and committed more funding to urban public transport than all our predecessors since Federation combined.  Nonetheless, there’s more to be done – and we want to do it in partnership with the other levels of government as well as the private sector.

Beyond the Melbourne Metro, the 2013-14 Budget takes our total investment in Victoria’s road, rail and public transport infrastructure to unprecedented $13.5 billion, with new funding for a range of other major priority projects including:

  • M80 (Western and Metropolitan Ring Roads) Upgrade: Complete
    the widening of the M80 to a minimum of three lanes in both direction and install the latest technology for managing traffic flows along the entire corridor.  The specific sections being upgraded are:

    • Princes Freeway to Western Highway;
    • Sunshine Avenue to Calder Freeway;
    • Sydney Road to Edgars Road; and
    • Plenty Road to Greensborough Highway.
      – Federal contribution: $525.1 million.
  • Managed Motorways: Install the latest technology for managing traffic flows and easing congestion along the Monash Freeway (M1) between High Street and Warrigal Road as well as from Warrigal Road to Clyde Road.
    – Federal contribution: $78.5 million.
  • Ballarat Freight Hub: Develop a general freight centre in Ballarat’s West Employment Zone.
    – Federal contribution: $9.1 million.
  • Princes Highway West: Duplicate the section between Winchelsea and Colac.
    – Federal contribution: $85.5 million.

From the outset Federal Labor’s mission has been to reverse the neglect we inherited and invest in the modern, well-planned transport infrastructure that will make working people’s lives easier, our businesses more competitive and the national economy stronger.