VICTORIAN Premier Denis Napthine last week announced a $2–2.5 billion rail project that aims to cater for growth in Melbourne's south-east by delivering a 30 per cent capacity boost as well as improving reliability on one of Melbourne's busiest and most crowded rail corridors.
The project includes the delivery of 25 new high-capacity trains, high-capacity signalling on the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines, the removal of four level crossings, the redevelopment of three stations and a new train maintenance depot at Pakenham East.
As part of the project, level crossings would be removed at Murrumbeena Road (Murrumbeena), Koornang Road (Carnegie), Clayton Road (Clayton) and Centre Road (Clayton), with the stations at Murrumbeena, Carnegie and Clayton to be redeveloped.
In addition, preconstruction funding would be provided for future level crossing removals at Corrigan, Heatherton and Chandler Roads in Noble Park, Grange Road in Carnegie and Poath Road in Murrumbeena.
According to the government, the project is to be delivered by MTR, with John Holland Construction and UGL Rail Services, and construction is expected to start in 2015 and finish in 2019. It is estimated that more than 3,000 jobs will be created during the five-year construction phase.
Dr Napthine said the project was another significant win for public transport that would see the number of trains running every peak hour increase to a total of 18 services. He added that the initiative will cater for an additional two million passengers per year to meet growing demand.
"This project is the first under the Government's new unsolicited proposals process, which is designed to harness the innovation of the private sector and hasten the delivery of better infrastructure and services to Victorians at the best possible price," Dr Napthine said.
"It is clear that Victoria is open for business and the Government will continue to encourage the private sector to be part of our efforts to Build a Better Victoria with infrastructure like the transformation of the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines.
"This significant investment in next generation technology will give us high capacity trains that can carry more passengers and high capacity signalling that will allow trains to run more frequently.
"The Pakenham and Cranbourne rail corridor serves one in 10 Melburnians and by delivering this project we will provide a more frequent and reliable journey for passengers on both the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines," Dr Napthine said.
Roads and Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said the project would also improve traffic flow and safety through the removal of four level crossings.
"This project will remove bottlenecks on our road networks and dramatically improve travel times and productivity for motorists, particularly those who travel on our public bus system," Mr Mulder said.
"There are more than six million bus travellers on eight different routes that will benefit from the removal of these four level crossings.