INFRASTRUCTURE Australia, the nation's independent infrastructure advisor, has positively assessed the business cases for Melbourne Metro, Bringelly Road Stage 2, and the ongoing upgrade of the Murray Basin rail network.
"The Australian Infrastructure Plan is very clear on the need for investment in high-capacity, high-frequency public transport services to support projected population growth in our major cities," said Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive, Philip Davies.
"With the populations of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth projected to grow by more than 30 per cent in the next 15 years, we need world class mass transit systems integrated into existing transport systems in our major cities to enable people to efficiently travel for work and leisure.
"Rail services into and around central Melbourne are already reaching capacity in peak periods, and in some cases passengers are unable to board trains.
"The number of people travelling by rail into the Melbourne CBD during the morning peak is forecast to grow by 65% between 2015 and 2031, with patronage on lines servicing growth corridors in the city's north, west and south east growing most quickly.
"The proposed Melbourne Metro would address network capacity constraints by enabling 20,000 more passengers to use Melbourne's rail network during each peak hour, and improving the reliability and efficiency of train lines serving growth areas in the city's north, west and south-east. The project has now been added to the Infrastructure Priority List as a High Priority Project.
"Melbourne Metro will be vital in improving accessibility to jobs located in central Melbourne—an area which accounts for around 6 per cent of Australia's Gross Domestic Product," Mr Davies said.
Infrastructure Australia also assessed the business case for the ongoing upgrade of the Murray Basin rail network. The project has now been added to the Infrastructure Priority List as a Priority Project.
"The Murray Basin region is a major producer of agricultural and mining goods, but access to large domestic and international markets is constrained by the poor condition of the regional rail network due to a historic underspend on maintenance.
"Capacity on the Murray Basin rail network is constrained by the mixture of broad and standard gauge lines and a 19 tonne axle load limit, which means trains cannot operate at full capacity.
"The Murray Basin Rail Project has been identified as a Priority Project as it addresses the fragmentation of the regional rail network and will alleviate current capacity constraints. This will ultimately reduce rail freight costs to business and improve the competiveness of Murray Basin exports," Mr Davies said.
The second stage of the $509 million Bringelly Road upgrade has also been added to Infrastructure Priority List as a Priority Project. The upgrade project forms part of the Federal and NSW governments' $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan.
The 10-kilometre project includes the upgrade of Bringelly Road from two lanes to a six lane divided road between the eastern side of Upper Canal bridge and the western side of the Eastwood Road intersection, through the future Leppington Town Centre. The rest of Bringelly Road will also be upgraded from two lanes to a four lane divided road with a central median, which would allow for widening to six lanes, when required.
"Along with a wider program of works that includes upgrades to The Northern Road and development of the M12 connecting The Northern Road with the M7, this project will ensure the region's road network can adequately meet this increase in traffic demand, and support economic growth in Western Sydney. It will also deliver improved safety outcomes for road users," Mr Davies said.
"The next task will be to increase investment in public transport to realise this economic growth and provide greater access between the south-west and major commercial centres such as Liverpool and Campbelltown."
More information on the Infrastructure Priority List, the assessment process and business case assessments is available from the Infrastructure Australia website at <http://infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/>.