As one of the largest cities in Australia and a key business and social hub, Melbourne relies on extensive and reliable transport infrastructure.
Railway engineering professionals based in the area, then, will be keen to hear about the state government’s latest project – a large-scale undertaking to boost Melbourne’s existing rail network and ensure it can meet the growing demands of the years ahead.
Premier Denis Napthine recently announced that the railway engineering project – reportedly valued at between $2 billion and $2.5 billion – will focus on expanding rail services in the south-east of the Victorian capital, specifically on the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines. According to Dr Napthine, the modified lines will increase capacity by 30 per cent, while the number of trains operating every peak hour will rise to 18 services in total.
The program plans to introduce 25 new high-capacity trains to meet this surge in demand and it will use the latest in signalling technology to boost fleet efficiency. In addition, level crossings will be removed at key points around the network, while stations at Clayton, Murrumbeena and Carnegie will be refurbished.
“This significant investment in next-generation technology will give us high capacity trains that can carry more passengers and high capacity signalling that will allow trains to run more frequently,” Dr Napthine said.
“With more trains running more often, that’s an extra 4,500 people in the peak hour who can get where they need to go as quickly as possible.”
Dr Napthine added that the expanded rail network will meet the demands of an additional two million passengers every year.
Locals will also be treated to a range of new jobs following the construction of a train maintenance depot at Pakenham East. In total, the entire course of the project – which is expected to last five years – will produce around 3,000 new jobs, a massive boost for anyone looking for work in the railway engineering sector.
“It is clear that Victoria is open for business and the government will continue to encourage the private sector to be part of our efforts to ‘Build a Better Victoria’ with infrastructure like the transformation of the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines,” Dr Napthine concluded.
Investment shifting from sea to land
It’s not just the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines that will be the focus of major transport investment, however. According to the Australasian Railway Association (ARA), the city’s Metro rail network may also be treated to financial assistance from the state government.
The ARA recently lauded the government’s decision to sell the lease for the Port of Melbourne and privatise other Victorian ports, and urged officials to redirect investment into supporting other areas of the state’s public transport infrastructure – particularly the Melbourne Metro Tunnel.
“The sale of the Port of Melbourne will not only kick start further future investment back in to the Port, but will hopefully also see proceeds from the sale go towards infrastructure projects which boost economic activity,” said Bryan Nye, CEO of the ARA.
“The Melbourne Metro Tunnel is one such economy boosting project, but one which has stagnated in recent times due to a lack of funding at a state or federal level.”
Mr Nye added that if the Metro Tunnel is not made a priority over the next 10 years, it is very likely that the city could “grind to a halt”.
He also highlighted the upgrade of level crossings as another project needing government focus. With the 50th level crossing upgrade finalised in February this year, the government is already making a positive commitment to improving rail safety across the state, he added.