A tale of 2 cities

A massive, $50 billion, underground suburban rail network will be built, linking every major rail line in Melbourne and the new airport rail, the Victorian government has pledged.

Billed as “the biggest public transport project in Australian history”, the Suburban Rail Loop is expected to take almost 30 years to build and connect key train lines from Frankston to Werribee.

When completed commuters would not need to travel into the city and back out to reach another part of Melbourne – a major downfall in the city’s existing train network.

The 90 kilometres of track would connect 10 train lines and the entire project is expected to take until 2050 to complete.

The line would be fully underground from Cheltenham to Melbourne Airport, and partially underground between the Airport and Werribee.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the project was about connecting people to jobs more easily.

‘‘This is about connecting universities and TAFEs and hospitals and employment precincts, it’s also about being able to live closer to where you work,” Mr Andrews said on Tuesday morning.

“This is about taking hundreds of thousands of cars off the road and giving people a public transport system that they can leave the car at home for.

‘‘It will take time to build, it will take a lot of money, but the real question is what’s the cost if we don’t deliver this? A congested city that just doesn’t function.’’

The new line would connect every major train line and will start to shift the rail network away from being a purely radial layout to an orbital design – one that includes circular links around the city, and not just in and out of the CBD.

It would be built in stages over multiple decades and is designed to connect major employment, health services and education precincts.

Business case development and the detailed design would start next year to determine exact station locations, route alignment and rolling stock.

The loop would connect 15 stations in total, with interchanges built at 10 existing stations.

Five new stations would be built at Doncaster, Bundoora, Burwood, Monash and the Airport, but commuters would not have a direct link to the city from these sites.