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Work is about to begin on Australia’s largest infrastructure project

Tim Gibson

1 December 2020

 

WORK is set to officially begin on what will be one of the largest infrastructure projects in Australian history; a 90-kilometre railway loop that links all of Melbourne’s outer suburbs.

Melbourne has quickly become Australia’s fastest growing city, with a population of nearly five million people encompassing a geographic area more than four times the size of London.

The city’s public infrastructure has been in dire need to catch up with this growth, with a proposal from the Andrews state government going a long way to rectify issues with the current metro rail service.

The proposed “Suburban Rail Loop” will connect the city’s airport with several major population hubs in Melbourne’s outer suburbs, including Box Hill and Monash University.

Above: The red line represents phase one of construction, yellow is phase two (image courtesy of the  Victorian State Government).

The Andrews government has set aside USD $1.6BN to begin phase one of construction (the first 26-kilometres), set to commence 2022.

No official end date for the entire loop has been announced, nor has a budget for the full 90-kilometre line, although estimates have put the total cost above USD $36.8BN.

Premier Daniel Andrews has said he hopes the new rail line will help speed the state’s recovery following an economically devastating four-month strict lockdown, which was only recently lifted.

The rail line is estimated to create 800 direct jobs and at the peak of construction support more than 20,000 jobs.

Andrews has conceded that the enormous project will take decades to complete, “It's started by our Government, but it will be finished in decades to come by another Government,” he said in a press release.

"It's not about the electoral cycle, it's about getting people where they need to go."

Above: A detailed view of the new stations (image courtesy of the Victorian State Government). 

Opposition leaders have been more skeptical however, asking for greater transparency in regards to the projected business costs and benefits.

Shadow Infrastructure Minister David Davis has warned that megaprojects such as these often balloon in costs and that the final price tag for the rail line could exceed USD $70BN.

Countries around the world have been investing in massive infrastructure projects like Melbourne’s “Suburban Rail Loop” in order to fight the economic fallout from COVID-19.

The French government recently announced a USD $119BN plan to rejuvenate the country’s infrastructure following a projected 11 percent fall in national output for 2020.

While China has plans to double their high-speed rail network by 2030 so as to redistribute economic prosperity to the country’s struggling interior.

Header image courtesy of Marcus Wong.

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