Victoria could become home to the nation’s biggest transport project after Labor pledged to build a $50 billion underground rail loop connecting Melbourne’s major train lines.
Premier Daniel Andrews made the announcement on his Facebook page on Tuesday, ahead of the state election due in November.
The Suburban Rail Loop will connect the major rail lines to a number of suburbs, including Clayton, Glen Waverley, Doncaster and Box Hill, and also link up to Tullamarine airport and finish at Werribee.
“It’s the biggest transport project in Australian history,” the government-produced video posted by Mr Andrews says.
It would cost up to $50 billion and construction would start in 2022, Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan told 3AW.
“We have to get moving on these bigger projects or else we will have bigger problems to come. This will take many decades. It will be needed to be done in stages,” she said on Tuesday.
Ms Allan said $300 million would be set aside in next year’s budget if Labor won the November state election, with the project to be finished by 2050.
The state government would seek funding from the Commonwealth and private enterprise, and a dedicated authority may be set-up to deliver the project.
About 400,000 passengers are expected to use the underground loop each day.
Labor leader Bill Shorten told ABC radio the numbers would have to be studied, but said Mr Andrews was “on the right track”.
Mr Andrews told Triple M radio the suburban loop was “critically important” to connect the train lines together.
“Our train system is built at the moment based on everybody wanting to go to and from the city, and that’s just not the way our city and suburbs work,” Mr Andrews said.
“I won’t finish this project. It’ll take a long time. But if we’re re-elected I’ll be the one who starts it.”