With a total of $70 billion invested in transport infrastructure projects across the state Jacinta Allan, Minister for Transport Infrastructure in Victoria outlined the budget for 2019/20.
Mrs. Allan opened the address by outlining over four years the state government has invested $46.7 billion into transport infrastructure and this year’s budget takes that number to $70 billion.
She noted the main government projects receiving investment were the level crossing removals, the Metro Tunnel, the West Gate Tunnel and the upgrades of every regional train line in Victoria.
With large population growth in the state Mrs. Allan acknowledged government investment in transport needed to keep up and large investments were needed to retain Melbourne’s liveability.
She reflected on the last half of the 20th century, where she said there had been a minimal amount of investment in the train network, besides the city loop.
Mrs. Allan addressed recognised cost pressures facing the construction sector across the country and internationally.
She said the state government is working to address these pressures and are factoring in industry trends when planning projects.
The government is focusing on attracting and retaining workers, ensuring availability of high quality materials, encouraging international participation and increasing the involvement of Tier 2 and 3 contractors.
Mrs. Allan announced the Registrations of Interest for the Suburban Rail Loop had opened with the business case and design work already underway.
She highlighted the importance of having a pipeline of projects to provide certainty for the industry. The Minister said the government understands investing in infrastructure is not only good for the economy, but also for job creation.
She acknowledged it was important to provide opportunities on projects for apprentices, provide jobs for locals and invest in growing the next generation of workers.
To update the rail sector on projects already underway, Mrs. Allan began with the Metro Tunnel that will connect all of the major planned lines in the future such as the Airport Rail and Suburban Rail Loop.
She said once complete the Metro Tunnel project will allow for half a million extra peak hour passengers weekly and will help slash travel times for some commuters. It will allow 65 new high capacity trains to run through the tunnel freeing up trains on other lines across the network.
Mrs. Allan announced the first of four tunnel boring machines was being assembled in North Melbourne for the project.
She also outlined budget commitments to remove an extra 25 level crossings in Melbourne suburbs. This takes the total number of level crossing removals to 75 with a budget of $13 billion.
Another major project the state government has committed to is the upgrade of the Sunbury line. Modifications will be made to the platforms and stabling, traction power, and signalling and data upgrades.
Mrs. Allan said the upgrades will allow the Sunbury line to operate through to the Cranbourne/Pakenham line and will take two of the busiest lines out of the city loop and into the Metro Tunnel.
She also detailed the $750 million investment into the Cranbourne/Pakenham line duplication for which works will begin this year and the start of a $547 million investment for stage two upgrades on the Hurstbridge line.
Mrs. Allan acknowledged the road project pipeline has a strong focus on freight vehicles. Projects such as the West Gate Tunnel and the North East Link are aimed at enabling freight to be transported more efficiently across the state.
She said the West Gate Tunnel should free the inner west of a large portion of truck traffic. Two tunnel boring machines will soon be deployed for construction of the West Gate Tunnel. Mrs. Allan said the tunnel will remove 28,000 vehicles daily from the West Gate bridge.
She says the North East Link will better serve trucks moving from manufacturing areas in the south-east to logistics precinct near Somerton and Campbellfield. Construction is due to start next year and it is hoped upon completion in 2027 it will reduce travel time by around 30 minutes.
The Minister also detailed the three major sections of suburban road upgrades, for which $4 billion has been allocated. Work is currently underway for the Western Upgrade Program which will see eight high-priority road upgrades and maintenance on 700 kilometres of the network.
She said construction of the northern and south-eastern upgrades will start in 2020 to be complete by 2025. The upgrades are intended to reduce congestion and boost access for local drivers.
To conclude Mrs. Allan acknowledged investment in transport infrastructure projects support people to move easily around the state. She said the investment will help to manage population growth and connect locals to their families and places of work.
She said over the next four years the government is committed to improving the public transport and road network, to give Victorians a world-class ‘turn up and go’ service and ensure both networks enable commuters to have a better quality of life.