BUILDING a new CBD rail tunnel is the most important transport project for Melbourne's future productivity and liveability and should be the top priority for the next Victorian government, according to peak national industry body Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF).
TTF last week released 'A Transport Agenda for Melbourne', which sets out its transport policy priorities for the Victorian election, including the development of a transport master plan to guide transport infrastructure investment in Melbourne over the next 20 years.
TTF Chief Executive Officer Margy Osmond said mass transit must be at the top of the list, adding that construction of a new CBD rail tunnel is required to overcome the capacity constraints of the existing City Loop tunnel, which opened in the early 1980s.
"The tunnel will allow the construction of new rail lines and increased service frequency on existing lines, as well as being a vital part of desegregating the rail network and allowing the introduction of metro-style train services," Ms Osmond said.
"We are pleased to see the commitments from both sides to a new CBD rail tunnel – including the Coalition's commitment to a rail link to Melbourne Airport, and welcome its announcement over the weekend of new rolling stock for Melbourne's train and tram networks.
"However, to get full value from this commitment to rolling stock, a new CBD rail tunnel must be the number one transport priority for the next government, as it will transform Melbourne's rail network by delivering a massive increase in capacity.
"The announcement of new trams must also be matched by a plan to rejuvenate and expand Melbourne's tram network, which is one of the city's great assets.
"Trams can play a more significant role in meeting Melbourne's transport needs through reforms to speed up what is one of the world's biggest but slowest tram networks, the rollout of more premium lines and expansion of the network to growth areas like Fishermans Bend.
"With Melbourne's population forecast to reach seven million by the middle of the century, an effective integrated transport network will be critical to the city's liveability and productivity.
"TTF is calling for both major parties to support the completion of a 20-year transport master plan that has bipartisan support and includes both public transport infrastructure and road projects.
"For a transport plan to truly be effective, it must be beyond politics and the vagaries of the electoral cycle.
"In addition, we believe that ensuring open tenders for bus contracts awarded to the private sector can also drive customer service improvements and lower costs.
"Simplifying the existing bus network and providing customers with better real-time information can allow buses to play a greater role in Melbourne's transport task."
TTF's 'A Transport Agenda for Melbourne' contains 18 priorities. These are:
- Develop and seek bipartisan support for a Transport Master Plan for Melbourne to guide transport infrastructure investment for the next 20 years
- Construct a new CBD rail tunnel to boost capacity across the rail network
- Build a railway line to Melbourne Airport
- Continue the segregation of rail lines
- Give greater priority to high-capacity signalling and new rolling stock
- Implement a forward plan for the removal of level crossings
- Progress a rail link to Avalon Airport
- Accelerate the roll-out of E-class rolling stock on Melbourne's tram network
- Plan a tram line to Fishermans Bend
- Improve the efficiency and speed of the tram network
- Implement open tendering for all bus contracts
- Reform the bus network to improve speed and reliability
- Give bus commuters more real-time information
- Construct the East-West link
- Complete the CityLink-Tullamarine Freeway widening
- Create a more walkable city
- Unlock the potential of cycling
- Make public transport and myki easier for visitors to use
Photo: Artist's impression of 'CBD North' station as part of proposed Melbourne Metro rail project / Victorian Government - Public Transport Victoria.