Proposed Melbourne rail extensions

Proposals for expansion of the Melbourne rail network are commonly presented by political parties, government agencies, industry organisations and public transport advocacy groups. The extensions proposed take a variety of forms: electrification of existing routes to incorporate them into the suburban rail system; reconstruction of former passenger rail lines along pre-existing easements; entirely new routes intended to serve new areas with heavy rail or provide alternative routes in congested areas; or track amplification along existing routes to provide segregation of services. Other proposals are for the construction of new or relocated stations on existing lines, to provide improved access to public transport services.

Proposals which have been adopted as policy by the state government, and which are in the detailed planning or construction phases, are also listed in this article.


History

1929 Metropolitan Town Planning Commission Plan

Map by the Metropolitan Town Planning Commission of a proposed underground railway c.1930-50. This plan eventually became the City Loop, completed in 1981.

The Metropolitan Town Planning Commission, established in 1922 by the Victorian state government, produced a report in 1929 that recommended a new underground railway in central Melbourne running via Exhibition and Victoria streets to reduce congestion at Finders Street station.[1] The plan also proposed:

1940 Ashworth Improvement Plan

Proposed extensions to Melbourne's rail network, 1940.

A 1940 report by the Victorian Railways Chief Engineer for Ways and Works recommended a number of rail improvement works, including an underground city railway, a line to Doncaster via the Kew spur, and the connection of the Alamein line to the Glen Waverley line at East Malvern.[2]

1954 Melbourne Metropolitan Planning Scheme Report

A 1954 strategy released by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works recommended changes to Melbourne's land-use planning, an extensive network of freeways and a park system.[3] It also recommended some expansions to the rail network, including an underground CBD rail line with three stations beneath Lonsdale Street.[3] It also called for:[3]

The report recommended against a line to Doncaster due to the high cost of tunnelling.[3]

1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan

A major plan released by the Victorian state government of Henry Bolte called for the creation of 510 kilometres of freeways, and a number of new rail lines.[4] The plan proposed:

None of these proposed lines were ever built, except for the underground rail loop which was eventually completed as the City Loop in 1982.[1] The lines to Werribee, Sunbury and Craigieburn were also eventually electrified.

1999 Linking Victoria

A strategy launched in 1999 by the state government of Steve Bracks called for an airport rail link to Melbourne Airport and the reopening of several regional railway lines.

2008 Victorian Transport Plan

The government of John Brumby responded to a major increase in rail patronage by releasing a plan in 2008 that called for a number of rail extensions, including the Regional Rail Link from West Werribee to Southern Cross station, a new inner-city rail tunnel called the Melbourne Metro Rail Project, and electrification of the rail network to South Morang (completed in 2011), Sunbury (completed in 2012), Melton and Cranbourne East.[5]

2013 Network Development Plan: Metropolitan Rail (NDPMR)

New government agency Public Transport Victoria (PTV) released a detailed 20-year rail development plan in 2013 under the government of Denis Napthine.[6] The report outlined a major expansion of the metropolitan rail network in Melbourne over a number of stages, with the goals of introducing a 'metro-style system' and extending the reach of the network.[7] Significant projects identified for construction included the Metro Tunnel, the Airport rail link, a line to Doncaster, a line to Rowville, a second underground inner-city rail tunnel, and many rail electrification and duplication projects.[8]

Extensions under construction

Diagram showing Melbourne's rail network, including former lines and lines currently in planning or construction.

Metro Tunnel

There have been numerous proposals for a North-South tunnel in inner-city Melbourne, to relieve capacity on Melbourne's City Loop and to provide new underground stations. In 2015 the State Government established the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority to oversee planning for new twin 9-kilometre rail tunnels through the central city between South Kensington station and South Yarra. The new Metro Tunnel will have five new underground stations and connect the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines with the Sunbury line, creating a new route through the CBD as an alternative to the City Loop.[9] New underground stations will be created at Arden, Parkville, Domain and two new CBD stations, State Library and Town Hall. Enabling works were underway by 2016 and major construction work on the tunnel and stations began in 2017.[10] The project has an estimated cost of $11 billion and is scheduled to be complete by 2025.[11]

Currently planned extensions

Airport rail link

A rail link to Melbourne Airport has been proposed repeatedly since the airport's construction, with a variety of routes and service models suggested, but construction has never commenced. In July 2018 the Federal and State Governments each pledged A$5 billion (for a total of A$10 billion) to construct a rail link. The Federal Government proposed four preferred routes for the link, with one proposal running via a direct tunnel to Highpoint Shopping Centreand the others linking to existing stations in Broadmeadows, Flemington or Sunshine.[12] An assessment of the four preferred routes conducted by Rail Projects Victoria culminated in the route via Sunshine station being selected, with a detailed business case expected by 2020. Construction is expected to start prior to the 2022 Victorian state election.[13]

Suburban Rail Loop

In August 2018, in the run-up to the 2018 Victorian state election, the State Government pledged $300 million to complete a business case and secure funding to construct a new railway through suburban Melbourne.[14] The project is designed to link major activity centres and amenities such as hospitals, shopping centres, universities, and Melbourne Airport. The proposal would connect most existing railway lines through middle suburbs and enable easier intra-suburban travel.[15]

The Suburban Rail Loop (SRL) would connect the existing station at Cheltenham with other existing stations at Clayton, Glen Waverley, Box Hill, Heidelberg, Reservoir, Fawkner, Broadmeadows, Sunshine and Werribee. It will also link to new stations to be built in areas that have long been promised rail connections, including Monash University, Burwood, Doncaster, Bundoora and Melbourne Airport. Construction is scheduled to begin on the first stage from Cheltenham to Box Hill by 2022 with other sections progressively opening until the full line is operational by 2050.[16][17]

Electrification to Baxter

The State Government is currently preparing a business case for electrification and extension of the Frankston line to Baxter in Melbourne's South, due for completion in 2019.[18] The Federal Government committed $225 million towards the project in its 2017-2018 budget.[19]

Electrification to Melton and Wyndham Vale

Electrification of the Deer Park – West Werribee line to Wyndham Vale was included in the 2013 Network Development Plan Metropolitan Rail (NDPMR) by the government agency Public Transport Victoria, along with quadruplication to provide express tracks for Geelong services. The plan also called for the electrification of the Ballarat line as far as Melton. Several additional stations have been proposed for an electrified Wyndham Vale line, at locations including Truganina, Sayers Road, Davis Road and Black Forest Road.[20]

During the 2018 Victorian state election, the State Government announced its Western Rail Plan, which would quadruplicate and electrify the rail lines to Melton and Wyndham Vale, allowing Metro services.[21] Under this plan, Metro and V/Line regional services would be separated, allowing for higher speed trains to be introduced to Geelong and Ballarat. The would electrify the track to Wyndham Vale opened in 2015 as part of the Regional Rail Link. New tracks between Sunshine and Southern Cross Station to be built as part of the Airport rail link could add extra capacity for metro and regional trains.[21] Planning for faster regional rail and electrification of the lines to Melton and Wyndham Vale will occur alongside planning for the Airport rail link, with construction set to start by 2022.[22]

Extension to Clyde

Various proposals have been made to extend the Cranbourne line to Clyde by re-electrifying part of the closed South Gippsland line. Construction on a project to duplicate the Cranbourne line between Dandenong and Cranbourne is expected to begin in 2019, with an extension to Clyde to follow on its completion.[23] In September 2019 the State Government announced the timeline for duplication as part of a $1bn package named the "Cranbourne Line Upgrade".[24] The package includes the removal of the four remaining level crossing on the line, the duplication of 8km of track, and the rebuilding of Merinda Park Station.[24] Set to begin in 2020, the duplication is planned to be completed by 2023 with the level crossing removals completed by 2025, allowing a ten minutes service frequency to Cranbourne and facilitating an eventual extension to Clyde.[24]

Proposals

Melbourne Metro 2

There have been various proposals for a successor to the Metro Tunnel, with the main proposal linking the Mernda and Werribee lines via a new tunnel between Clifton Hill and Newport. This proposal was first identified by PTV in the 2013 NDPMR. The new Parkville station to be built as part of the Metro Tunnel has been designed with provision for future expansion to an interchange with the second Metro Tunnel.[25] Melbourne City Council has advocated for the tunnel, which could include stations at Fitzroy, Parkville, Flagstaff, Southern Cross and multiple stations at the urban renewal precinct Fisherman's Bend.[26] The tunnel was included in 2018 as part of the State Government's 30-year strategy for Fisherman's Bend, with two stations in the precinct, and has been backed by the head of government agency .[27][28]

Melbourne Metro 3

In 2018 a paper released by Melbourne City Council as part of its Transport Strategy refresh called for a third cross-city rail tunnel to be built by 2035.[29] The council called for a stand-alone metro line running from Melbourne Airport to Maribyrnong, Arden Macaulay, Southern Cross, Parliament then east of the CBD to Richmond, Kew, Doncaster and Ringwood.[30][31]

Western suburbs

Werribee line

Avalon Airport

  • Prior to the 2010 Victorian state election, then-Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu promised to begin construction in his first term on an extension of the passenger rail line to Avalon Airport in Melbourne's South-West.[32] The plan would have seen a single-line track branch off from the Melbourne-Geelong rail line.[32] Despite the Napthine Government revealing a preferred option for the link in 2014, the proposal never progressed to construction.[33] In 2018, Geelong Council called for a link to Avalon Airport as part of a future high-speed rail line to Geelong.[34]
  • Avalon Airport management acknowledge that current patronage cannot justify a rail branch to the airport. Their preference now is for an "Avalon Airport" station to be provided on the existing Melbourne to Geelong rail line. It would also function as the terminal for the airport, from which passengers would be transported, using an unspecified type of people mover, on a four-minute, four-kilometre journey to the departure lounge, using the corridor set aside for the airport rail branch.[35]

Northern suburbs

Albion–Jacana line

Craigieburn line

Upfield line

North-eastern suburbs

Doncaster line

  • A variety of proposals for railway lines to the suburb of Doncaster have been made since the mid-20th century, although none have commenced construction. The City of Manningham is the only metropolitan Melbourne council area not served by a heavy rail line, and most proposals have envisaged a junction with the Hurstbridge and Mernda lines near Clifton Hill. Public transport advocates have claimed that the most frequently proposed route, along the median of the Eastern Freeway, will be jeopardised by construction of the North East Link, permanently precluding construction of the rail line. However, construction authorities have stated that the reservation will continue to be suitable.[40]

Hurstbridge line

  • An extension of the Hurstbridge line to East Reservoir, was proposed in the 1950s as a means of opening up the area east of High Street towards Darebin Creek for residential development. The proposed route was a branch line from Alphington station to East Reservoir. The proposed line consisted of five stations and several bridges which meant that the line would not interfere with any road traffic. The proposed cost was approximately £250,000.[citation needed]
  • A new Eltham North station, between the existing Eltham and Diamond Creek stations, has been proposed to provide improved access for local residents. However, the proposal has been criticised due to its potential to encourage urban sprawl in undeveloped areas.[41]

Eastern suburbs

Lilydale line

  • An additional station at Cave Hill, between Mooroolbark and Lilydale, has been proposed by Yarra Ranges Council to support residential development in the area.[43]

Rowville

  • A railway line to the suburb of Rowville has been proposed repeatedly since its appearance in the 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan, and was included in the PTV Network Development Plan.[8] A 2012 feasibility study and a 2016 Infrastructure Victoria report rejected the project as a poor use of funds, but public transport advocates continue to favour a heavy rail line, particularly to serve the nearby Monash University campus. In 2018 the State Government instead proposed a light rail service along the route. It is expected to have a business case complete by 2019.[44]

Knox

Alamein line

South-eastern suburbs

South-East Fast Line

  • In their 2018 Melbourne Rail Plan, the Rail Futures Institute proposed that by 2035 a new express line should be built from Southern Cross to Caulfield, Chadstone, Monash, Dandenong and Pakenham, with new stations at Chadstone and Monash.[45]

Frankston and Stony Point line

Pakenham and Cranbourne line

  • The Public Transport Users' Association has proposed re-opening the General Motors railway station which closed in July 2002. Both platforms and the footbridge above the station remain but would require repairs and resurfacing or replacement, while the building and other fixtures would have to be demolished and new facilities built. PTV instead argues that land use in the area does not demand construction of a passenger station.[50]

Southern suburbs

St Kilda line

Although the St Kilda Line has been converted to light rail operation and is now part of Melbourne's tram network, several proposals for rail extensions existed throughout its working life.

  • Various proposals have existed to extend the St Kilda line to Elwood.
    • In 1857, a proposal was brought forward to bring the Gippsland Railway into Melbourne via Elsternwick, Elwood and St Kilda.[51]
    • In 1882, an Albert Park to Elwood Railway was listed on that year's Railway Construction Bill. Despite public support, the Elwood line was later deleted as it was felt that the area was already well served by public transport.[51]
    • During 1884, William Ross developed plans to extend the St Kilda line to his Rosstown Railway via Elwood. Two routes, a Sea Beach and inland Melbourne Extension were proposed.[51]
    • The 1940 Ashworth Improvement Plan identified future works to extend the St Kilda south easterly to Elwood. These included a tunnel under Fitzroy Street and 3 stations.
  • In 1954 the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works released their Planning Scheme for Melbourne which contained a new station on Southbank and a direct route to Spencer Street station.[52]
  • In 1970, the Tewksbury Symposium, a group of Melbourne University academics, proposed a "by-pass" line from the Glen Waverley railway via Caulfield and Elsternwick, to link up with the St Kilda line. The proposal was framed as part of an alternative scheme to the Melbourne Underground Loop.[53]

See also

References

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  4. ^ "Melbourne transportation study / prepared for the Metropolitan Transportation Committee by Wilbur Smith and associates and Len T. Frazer and associates. - Version details". Trove. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
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