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The first underground station to be built as part of the $100 billion Suburban Rail Loop may be linked to a major retail hub under new plans. See where the new starting point could be.
The first underground station for the $100 billion Suburban Rail Loop is likely to be built next to a major retail and entertainment centre in Melbourne’s southeastern suburbs.
The Andrews Government has been developing plans for its orbital subway line that would connect Melbourne’s middle suburbs and employment hubs via 90km of track.
Works on the first stage, linking Cheltenham to Box Hill via a 27km tunnel, are set to begin in 2022.
But rather than locking in the starting point at Cheltenham station, engineers are testing sites near to Southland station — which is in the same suburb but about 1km north along the Frankston rail line.
An artist’s concept of a station along the Suburban Rail Loop. Picture: Suburban Rail Loop AuthorityPlans haven’t been ticked off by Cabinet, but community consultation seems to also favour Southland due to its link to Westfield’s shopping centre that employs thousands of people in 400 stores.
If approved, it would lead to major housing and commercial developments and a mini-metropolis for the growing southeastern suburbs.
Plans would also leave open the door to extending tracks down the road to the Sandringham line next to Port Phillip Bay.
Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said no decision on station locations had been made, although the broad alignment and precinct locations for the line between Cheltenham and Box Hill were locked in.
“We’re getting on with the planning and engineering works necessary to allow construction to start – which will deliver enormous economic benefits and thousands of jobs,” Ms Allan said.
“Suburban Rail Loop will transform our public transport system and our suburbs and we’ll have more to say on its progress soon.”
The broad alignment for the Suburban Rail Loop.Opposition Transport Infrastructure spokesman David Davis said the project was still a “line drawn on an envelope” and was likely to cost more than $150 billion.
But he said Southland would make an “obvious hub” if the project went ahead.
“The real question is, when does the community get the see the business case?” he said.
Drilling has already begun across 4km and 100 sites to determine the best tunnel alignment for the SRL, and how to link with other radial rail lines that run into the CBD.
It’s understood experts have flagged issues with building an underground link at Cheltenham station due to a recent level crossing removal, which sunk the rail line into a trench.
Plans for that redesign were approved in March 2019 — four months before geotechnical testing began for SRL but after the broad alignment was announced by Premier Daniel Andrews.
Site inspections near Southland have been taking at Sir William Fry Reserve on Nepean Hwy, near to where a redevelopment at a former gas and fuel site is taking place.
Southland shopping centre. Picture: Valeriu CampanResidents have objected to the scale and height of plans, and want to protect the reserve for open space.
Having the SRL begin at Southland would be a major boon for Westfield, which also has a shopping centre at Doncaster where another underground station is planned for the project.
Cheltenham-Southland is a Major Activity Centre in the government’s Plan Melbourne strategy up to 2050.
The Suburban Rail Loop, which is unfunded, would connect Melbourne’s major radial rail lines to a new orbital subway system and usher in new large-scale development of key precincts along the route, such as at Monash University in Clayton and Deakin University in Burwood.
Super hubs are planned at Sunshine, Broadmeadows, and Clayton to connect to regional lines, and a planned new airport link would also be connected.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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