Monday, December 8, 2008

Tunnel vision on track -

THE $38 billion transport package will revolutionise the way you move around this city. It will also change the way goods are moved.

Train travel will become quicker and less prone to disruptions with construction of a $9.5 billion tunnel from Footscray to Caulfield.

Stations are expected in the university and hospital precinct in Parkville, at the Domain interchange and possibly in the CBD.

The project is designed to carry about 40,000 passengers an hour.

Metlink chief executive Bernie Carolan said the tunnel was essential in ensuring the delivery of reliable commuter train services into the future.

Inner network problems needed to be fixed before extensions, such as to South Morang, could be fixed, he said.

The $1.5 billion Tarneit link, from Sunshine to Werribee, is designed to improve metropolitan and country services.

V/Line services to and from Geelong will be more reliable because they won't get stuck behind suburban trains.

You might be more likely to get a seat in future thanks to an immediate order for 20 trains and a further order for 35 next-generation trains.

Quicker trips to and from Doncaster can be expected with enhanced bus services.

But don't expect a quick, seamless drive from the Eastern Freeway to CityLink any time soon.

Another of Sir Rod Eddington's major recommendations, an east-west road tunnel, has proven to be more politically difficult than the rail tunnel.

But relief is in sight for motorists with a $240 million upgrade of the West Gate Bridge, revealed by the Herald Sun last week, to provide a medium-term alternative.

A further reason to delay the east-west road tunnel will be a plan to build flyovers along Hoddle St.

Motorists will also get an easier run through the notorious Springvale Rd level crossing at Nunawading, rated the worst in the state for safety, which will be replaced.

What is less obvious is a growing problem around the ports area: more capacity to move freight around is desperately needed.

Resident anger is building around the inner-western suburbs as truck numbers increase.

The solution is the first stage of Sir Rod's road tunnel, underneath Footscray to the ports, and better connections to Hyde St and Footscray Rd, allowing trucks to bypass residential areas.

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