Melbourne

Melbourne needs integrated transport plan: Committee for Melbourne

The Committee of Melbourne has called for the development of an integrated transport plan for Melbourne to coordinate the provision of transport infrastructure in the city.

While a number of government plans have been developed to guide infrastructure investment, the Committee for Melbourne has found that none are truly comprehensive, detailed, or strategic enough to outline how Melbourne will grow in the long-term.

Martine Letts, CEO Committee for Melbourne said that now was the right time to plan for the future of Melbourne.

“Mobility in Melbourne has reached a tipping point. With the growth pressures the city is facing that continue to build, more than ever a plan is required to accommodate the efficient movement of people and freight. A business-as-usual approach will see road congestion cost Melbourne’s economy up to $10.2 billion per annum by 2031 in operation and pollution costs.”

The report calls for a plan that integrates mobility patterns, land-use, and economic patterns, to enable seamless mobility throughout Greater Melbourne. This would mean that projects such as Suburban Rail Loop and the Melbourne Airport Rail Link would be included as certain aspects of the city’s future, along with further projects such as Melbourne Metro 2.

In addition to the infrastructure itself, the integrated plan would also combine elements such as demand management, technology, land-use planning, and economic development. These elements would guide measures such as public transport frequency, integrated mobility services, transport-oriented development, and using infrastructure investment as a level for investment.

The report recommends that with Melbourne’s population expected to continue to grow, and freight volumes also expected to increase, there is a need for integrated transport planning.

“It is not in anyone’s interest that Melbourne’s transport network returns to the state that it was in prior to the COVID-19 crisis. Peak hour commutes on public transport had become increasingly uncomfortable, while traffic congestion on the road network was worse than any other Australian capital city,” said Letts.

Melbourne was recently highlighted as a major Australian city with worsening congestion and reliability in travel in research by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and Uber.

“As our economy recovers and we once again welcome increasing numbers of new residents and visitors, and as we produce and consume more goods and services, we must ask ourselves what it will take to remain a highly liveable, prosperous, and sustainable, twenty-first century city. Designing, publishing, and implementing a strategic plan which considers transport, land-use, and economic development planning is a good place to start,” said Letts.

New public transport minister in Vic cabinet reshuffle

A reshuffle of minister in Victoria has seen changes within the transport portfolios.

Ben Carroll has been appointed Minister for Public Transport and Minister for Roads and Road Safety, taking the Public Transport portfolio from Melissa Horne.

Premier Daniel Andrews said in a statement that the former Minister for Crime Prevention, Corrections, Youth Justice, and Victim, support would be stepping forward.

“Ben Carroll will step into the frontline roles of Minister for Public Transport and Minister for Roads and Road Safety, continuing to ensure we have the reliable and integrated transport network we need to get Victorians home safer and sooner.”

Melissa Horne will continue as Minister for Ports and Freight and has added Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation to her portfolios.

Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan has retained her transport portfolio and added the title of Minister for the Suburban Rail Loop.

“Jacinta Allan will lead the delivery of our biggest public transport project and reshape our suburbs as the Minister for the Suburban Rail Loop. She will also continue to oversee Development Victoria and the key transport precincts of Arden, Sunshine and the Richmond to Flinders Street corridor,” said Andrews.

The ministerial reshuffle follows the removal of Adem Somyurek, Marlene Kairouz, and Robin Scott after the branch stacking scandal.

In a tweet, Allan said that she was proud to be Minister for Suburban Rail Loop.

“Victoria’s biggest ever project which will change the way we move around forever – creating 10,000s jobs during construction and more jobs and services in Melbourne’s suburbs.”

Drilling works continuing for Suburban Rail Loop

Early geotechnical works are continuing as part of the first stages of the Suburban Rail Loop.

Having begun in November 2019, during April a number of site investigations have taken place in Clayton, Burwood, Notting Hill, Mount Waverly, Highett, Cheltenham, and Glen Waverly.

The works so far include drilling to gain data and information about local ground conditions. This involves confirming an area is free of utility services, geotechnical drilling and testing, and installing a groundwater monitoring well for samples and measurement of groundwater levels.

Investigations have been focused in the south east of Melbourne, as the first stage of the loop will run from Cheltenham to Box Hill. Clayton will serve as a new transport super hub while new stations will be built in Burwood and Monash.

In March this year, a number of investigations were also carried out in areas from Box Hill to Highett. The project aims to have 100 boreholes drilled by mid-2020.

Once complete, the Suburban Rail Loop will connect each metropolitan train line in Melbourne and travel around the city from Cheltenham to Werribee via Melbourne Airport.

Initial construction works are expected to commence in 2022. When operational, the Suburban Rail Loop will run as a separate rail line, using dedicated rollingstock and separate systems. The same ticketing system will serve both networks, however.

Designs for Werribee level crossings revealed

Further designs for level crossing removals in Werribee have been released.

An alliance of McConnell Dowell, Arup, Mott MacDonald, and Metro Trains Melbourne will deliver the project, which covers two level crossings.

The crossings are located at Old Geelong Road in Hoppers Crossing and Werribee Street in Werribee.

The $355.5 million worth of work will involve the construction of a road bridge near the current Old Geelong Road level crossing and a rail bridge over the Werribee Street level crossing.

The same alliance have been working on replacing the nearby Cherry Street level crossing.

A pedestrian overpass will replace the Old Geelong Road level crossing.

Freight services will be able to continue to run on the corridor on a temporary track.

The level crossing works will feed into further network improvements as part of the Western Rail Plan and Suburban Rail Loop.

New areas of open space will be created between Werribee Racecourse and Werribee River underneath the newly raised rail line.

Victoria’s Suburban Rail Loop details revealed

The Victorian government has announced the details of its plans for Victoria’s dedicated, standalone Suburban Rail Loop.

“A year ago, Victorians voted for the Suburban Rail Loop and we haven’t wasted a moment getting on with it” premier Daniel Andrews said.

“We’ve removed 30 level crossings, we’re building the Metro Tunnel, and we’re doing the vital planning and design work for the Suburban Rail Loop,” minister for transport, infrastructure Jacinta Allan said.

After 12 months of technical, planning and design work, the government has announced that the 90-kilometre rail ring will be a twin-tunnel line solution with a dedicated fleet of quick, high-tech trains enabling ‘turn-up-and-go’ services.

It will fully integrate into the existing public transport network with up to 12 new stations connecting the existing rail system with the new standalone line. Passengers will be able transfer between both networks easily, using the same ticketing system servicing both.

Building the loop as a separate, standalone line will allow it to integrate state-of-the-art systems from around the world without having to retrofit technology into the existing network.

It will also mean that the design of the dedicated fleet won’t be constrained by the requirements of Melbourne’s hundred-year-old train network. As such, the new trains will be faster than the existing fleet.

They will be four to five carriages long, which means they can turn up more often. The platforms will also be shorter – reducing the distance passengers need to walk at the station each day to get on the train.

Geotechnical drilling is now well underway on the Stage One route from Box Hill to Cheltenham. Fourteen boreholes have already been dug, with close to 100 to be drilled by mid-2020.

The information collected during this stage will inform the final alignment and station locations for the project. Construction on Stage One of the Suburban Rail Loop is expected to begin in 2022.