$50b Suburban Rail Loop plan to revolutionise Melbourne's public transport

In the lead up to the November Victorian state election, the Andrews Government has announced plans for a new suburban rail network that will circle Melbourne connecting existing major metropolitan lines and running from Werribee in the west to Cheltenham in the south-east, passing through Melbourne Airport.

A major boost to Melbourne's long-term planning for a population of 8 million, the $50 billion project, expected to be completed by 2050, will cater for commuters between suburbs, avoiding the need to travel via the CBD, as well as for regional commuters working in suburban business and activity centres such as Monash, Deakin and LaTrobe universities.

Of the proposed 90 km Suburban Rail Loop, the south east section between Cheltenham and Box Hill will run underground, 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 connect to the new Melbourne Airport rail link.

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

If re-elected, the Labor Government 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 for completion within ten years.

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