Victoria’s new Labor Government has dropped the former Liberal Government’s $2.5 billion upgrade proposal for the Cranbourne-Pakenham line, and has launched an upgrade plan of its own.
The Andrews Government announced on Tuesday that it will not proceed with the existing proposal for the Cranbourne-Pakenham line, which it said “was brought to the previous government as a complex unsolicited bid by a private sector consortium”.
Labor said the plan “didn’t go far enough and couldn’t even deliver what the Liberals had promised,” and said it estimated the project costs would blow out to $3.1 billion – $600 million more than the plan estimated.
“The Liberals promised billions of taxpayer dollars to a private sector consortium without knowing if the project would even work,” state treasurer Tim Pallas said.
“The Liberals lied about their own project, disregarded their own process, and came close to blowing billions of taxpayer dollars on a proposal that didn’t stack up.”
Minister for public transport Jacinta Allan added: “The unsolicited bid was riddled with problems. It wasn’t up to scratch and didn’t go far enough. We’re getting on with a bigger and better plan.”
Private consortium members MTR, John Holland Rail and UGL will reportedly be paid $30 million in compensation, and the Andrews Government will buy their intellectual property for the upgrade to the line.
The new plan will see 37 new trains added to the line, with 50% of their construction to take place in Australia.
Nine level crossings will be removed between Dandenong and Caulfield, and four stations will be rebuilt: Clayton, Carnegie, Murrumbeena and Hughesdale.
A new train depot and maintenance facility will be put in Pakenham, and new and upgraded rail infrastructure will be installed in the corridor, including power and signalling upgrades.
“Fewer level crossings and more trains means fewer delays and more services, every single day,” Allan said. “It will transform Melbourne’s busiest rail line.
“Removing level crossings will create Victorian jobs. Building trains locally will protect Victorian jobs. This helps our transport system and our economy.”
Premier Andrews said: “I live in the south-east so I know the level crossings nightmare all too well.
“The boom gates between Dandenong and Caulfield stay down for up to 80 minutes over the morning peak. If we don’t act now, transport in the south-east will eventually grind to a halt.
“We’re removing 50 of our most dangerous and congested level crossings, to get people home safer and sooner.”