Infrastructure Australia positively assesses Melbourne Metro and Murray Basin Rail business cases

20 January 2017

Infrastructure Australia, the nation's independent infrastructure advisor, has positively assessed the business cases for Melbourne Metro and the ongoing upgrade of the Murray Basin rail network.

“The Australian Infrastructure Plan is very clear on the need for investment in high-capacity, high-frequency public transport services to support projected population growth in our major cities,” said Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive, Philip Davies.

“With the populations of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth projected to grow by more than 30 per cent in the next 15 years, we need world class mass transit systems integrated into existing transport systems in our major cities to enable people to efficiently travel for work and leisure.

“Rail services into and around central Melbourne are already reaching capacity in peak periods, and in some cases passengers are unable to board trains.

“The number of people travelling by rail into the Melbourne CBD during the morning peak is forecast to grow by 65% between 2015 and 2031, with patronage on lines servicing growth corridors in the city's north, west and south east growing most quickly.

“The proposed Melbourne Metro would address network capacity constraints by enabling 20,000 more passengers to use Melbourne's rail network during each peak hour, and improving the reliability and efficiency of train lines serving growth areas in the city's north, west and south-east. The project has now been added to the Infrastructure Priority List as a High Priority Project.

“Melbourne Metro will be vital in improving accessibility to jobs located in central Melbourne—an area which accounts for around 6 per cent of Australia's Gross Domestic Product,” Mr Davies said.

Infrastructure Australia also assessed the business case for the ongoing upgrade of the Murray Basin rail network. The project has now been added to the Infrastructure Priority List as a Priority Project.

“The Murray Basin region is a major producer of agricultural and mining goods, but access to large domestic and international markets is constrained by the poor condition of the regional rail network due to a historic underspend on maintenance.

“Capacity on the Murray Basin rail network is constrained by the mixture of broad and standard gauge lines and a 19 tonne axle load limit, which means trains cannot operate at full capacity.

“The Murray Basin Rail Project has been identified as a Priority Project as it addresses the fragmentation of the regional rail network and will alleviate current capacity constraints. This will ultimately reduce rail freight costs to business and improve the competiveness of Murray Basin exports,” Mr Davies said.

The Infrastructure Priority List identifies nationally significant projects and initiatives in every state and territory, and is regularly updated as the Infrastructure Australia Board receives and assesses new business cases from project proponents.

The business case evaluation summaries for the Melbourne Metro and Murray Basin Rail, and the updated Infrastructure Priority List are now available at www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au.

Melbourne Metro

  • The Melbourne Metro project would connect the Sunbury line with the Cranbourne/Pakenham line through twin 9km rail tunnels running from South Kensington to South Yarra under the CBD.
  • This would form a new line which would operate independent of the rest of the network, and release capacity for more services into the CBD on other lines through the city loop.
  • The project includes five new underground stations—Arden, Parkville, Domain, and two new stations in the CBD with interconnections to the broader rail network.
  • The total capital cost of the project is estimated at $10.2 billion (nominal, P50).
  • The proponent's stated benefit-cost ratio for the project is 1.1—$1.10 worth of benefits for every dollar invested, and the stated net present value is $600 million, not including wider economic benefits.
  • Direct economic benefits from the project include travel time savings, reduced train crowding and improved customer experience.

Murray Basin Rail Project

  • The Murray Basin Rail Project includes a package of rail network improvements, including track upgrades to increase axle loadings, and standardisation of the existing broad gauge rail network in Victoria's Murray Basin region.
  • The project will deliver gauge standardisation and upgrade to 21 tonne axle loads for the Mildura rail line from Gheringhap to Yelta; Mildura rail line from Maryborough and Dunolly (currently dual gauge); Sea Lake rail line from Dunolly to Sea Lake; and Manangatang rail line from Korong Vale to Manangatang.
  • The project also involves re-instatement and upgrade of the standard gauge rail line between Ararat and Maryborough and conversion of the rail line between Gheringhap and Maryborough to dual gauge.
  • The capital cost of the project is estimated at $416.2 million (nominal, P50). The project is expected to generate economic benefits in excess of its costs. The majority of these are derived from transport cost savings.