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The $50 billion Suburban Rail Loop could end up as a series of disjointed shuttle services, forcing commuters to change trains to navigate around it.
Concerns are mounting about how the loop will service Melbourne’s west, with the government’s push to shoehorn the airport rail link into the project causing headaches.
The first two sections of the biggest public transport project in the nation’s history are supposed to be a tunnel from Cheltenham to Box Hill, and the airport rail connection in the northwest.
While design work is well advanced on the southeastern section, with construction to start in 2022, continuing uncertainty about airport rail has become a stumbling block on the western side.
The proposed Suburban Rail Loop is planned to traverse Melbourne’s outer suburbs.The government’s preferred airport rail link via the Metro Tunnel means new tracks between Sunshine and Tullamarine will be designed for high-capacity trains — not the dedicated hi-tech fleet promised for the Suburban Rail Loop.
With the rest of the loop to be built in stages, this means commuters may have to change trains several times to travel around the 90km line.
Insiders say doubt has also emerged about the government’s commitment to round out the loop with new tracks from Sunshine’s transport super hub to Werribee.
Public Transport Users Association spokesman Daniel Bowen said the loop had “huge potential” to open up the west.
“The eastern section is pretty well defined but the west might have to involve more tracks,” he said.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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