Monday, September 15, 2008

Strategy to ease the squeeze -

Clay Lucas, Jason Dowling and Ben Schneiders

Waiting: The city seen from South Kensington station yesterday.

Waiting: The city seen from South Kensington station yesterday. Photo: Joe Armao

UP TO 20 new six-carriage trains will be ordered to ease overcrowding on Melbourne's rail system.

The $300-million-plus order will be a key plank of the State Government's coming transport statement.

As part of the statement, due by November, the Government is also set to order at least 60 new trams to replace the old Z-class fleet that was commissioned in 1975. Secrecy surrounds the transport statement, which the Government has been working on for several months, as commuter anger over the struggling system becomes a political liability.

But The Age believes the Victorian Transport Plan — the Government's fourth "long-term" transport statement since 2002 — is also set to:

  • Implement public-private partnerships across the train network in which developers build new railway stations in return for the right to build above the stations.
  • Consider abandoning the contentious $7 billion Footscray-to-Caulfield rail route proposed by infrastructure adviser Sir Rod Eddington, and instead make better use of an under-used 80-year-old train tunnel running beneath Footscray's Bunbury Street.
  • Announce a construction timetable for the $500 million Frankston bypass, now the subject of an environmental study.
  • Bring forward the Government's $660 million orbital SmartBus program, to be completed in 2010, an election year, rather than the planned 2012.
  • Dramatically upgrade bus services to Doncaster on the Eastern Freeway.

The Government also is moving towards backing the first stage of Sir Rod's proposed $9 billion road tunnel, which would go from Melbourne's inner west to CityLink.

This road option would result in hundreds of homes in either Yarraville or Sunshine being compulsorily acquired.

But with many tollway companies spooked by gloomy financial conditions, it is unclear who would pay for the road project unless the Federal Government steps in...

Read the entire article at

My bold.

I wasn't aware of the Bunbury Street tunnel. From the looks of it, it means trains don't have to go through Footscray station, crosses the Maribyrnong River on its own bridge, and then links back up with the train line.

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