THE Victorian Labor Government this week announced that it will not proceed with the previous Coalition Government's Cranbourne-Pakenham Rail Corridor Project, and will instead pursue its own plans for Melbourne's busiest train line.
According to the government, the previous proposal was a complex unsolicited bid by a private sector consortium. It said while some individual elements of the proposal were worthy, a technical assessment revealed that the project rated only 'average' and had significant problems and shortfalls.
- Insufficient detail, unresolved technical and scope issues, and significant project risk;
- A lack of integration between the components of the proposal;
- Estimates that the project could blow out from $2.5 billion to at least $3.1 billion;
- Trains along the line would continue to be overcrowded;
- The proposal would have only delivered 25 trains – not enough to meet future passenger numbers – with a majority of the trains' construction taking place overseas;
- The proposal only delivered four level crossing removals and failed to remove five of Melbourne's worst level crossings between Caulfield and Dandenong; and
- The proposal would have privatised the Cranbourne-Pakenham line and isolated it from the rest of the network for the next 20 years.
Instead of proceeding with the "problem-riddled unsolicited bid", the government said it will instead purchase detailed planning, design and engineering work from the consortium, and use it and the funding to fast-track a bigger, better plan with more trains and more level crossing removals.
"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," Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said.
Under a new multi-billion dollar package, the project will include:
- The purchase of 37 next generation, high capacity trains, built at least 50 per cent in Australia;
- The removal of all nine level crossings between Dandenong and Caulfield;
- Four rebuilt stations at Clayton, Carnegie, Murrumbeena and Hughesdale;
- New and upgraded rail infrastructure in the corridor including power and signaling upgrades; and
- A new train depot and maintenance facility in Pakenham.
The works are expected to boost capacity by up to 42 per cent on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line every day – accommodating an extra 11,000 passengers in the morning peak – and boost capacity across the network by freeing up existing trains.
Based on technical advice from Public Transport Victoria, a trial of high capacity signalling will take place on the Sandringham Line, rather than the Cranbourne-Pakenham line.
Expressions of interest for the level crossing removals and the next generation trains are due to be released to the market within months.