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OPPOSITION Leader Bill Shorten will pour $300 million into Victorian Labor’s suburban rail loop project if Labor wins the next federal election.
The new pledge matches state Labor’s initial funding, and would bring the total earmarked for the project to $600 million.
That would be enough to enable work to start on the first section, from Cheltenham to Box Hill, within four years.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten pledges $300 million for Victoria’s suburban rail loop project if elected. Picture: AAPPremier Daniel Andrews unveiled the ambitious $50 billion loop plan in August, and said that if re-elected he would start building the 90km of track from Cheltenham to Werribee to connect all current Melbourne train lines.
This includes a section from Tullamarine to Sunshine, also set to begin construction by 2022, allowing airline passengers to use rail between the airport and the CBD.
Mr Shorten told the Sunday Herald Sun he would help kickstart the project, to create 20,000 construction jobs.
He said more transport infrastructure was needed to cope with Melbourne’s forecast population of 7.3 million by 2046.
“This is the sort of vision Melbourne needs — to keep up with the demands of Australia’s fastest-growing capital city,” Mr Shorten said.
“Labor understands how important it is to invest in decent public transport.”
The election promise locks federal Labor into the Melbourne Airport link via Sunshine, with all major parties at state and federal level now promising to get that built.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews unveiled the ambitious $50 billion loop plan in August. Picture: AAPToday’s announcement is the second major partnership agreement between state and federal Labor, as Mr Shorten and Mr Andrews strive to demonstrate an effective working relationship.
On October 4 they jointly promised to pour billions of dollars into kindergarten places for three-year-olds if successful at elections.
The new rail loop is expected to be used by 400,000 passengers a day, taking 200,000 cars off the roads.
Mr Andrews said Labor’s total $600 million pledge was “every dollar needed to complete the business case, environmental studies and extensive geotechnical and preconstruction work, to get the project started in 2022”.
He will today outline travel savings the loop would offer, including trips from Box Hill to the airport in 25 minutes, and from Box Hill to Monash University’s Clayton campus in 15 minutes.
Critics of the project have questioned the overall cost and timeline of the loop, which includes 12 new underground stations but may not be completed until 2050.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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