I read with considerable interest your article in the Rail Digest, June 2014 about rail infrastructure in Victoria in the 2014- 2015 Victorian Budget. 96% of the Victorian budget is being spent in Melbourne and 4% for Regional and Rural Victoria, there is much more to Victoria than Melbourne.
The Rail Revival Alliance has been advocating for the creation of the Regional Rail Link between Geelong, Ballarat, Maryborough, Castlemaine and Bendigo the largest regional centres in Victoria. The Minister for Regional Victoria, Peter Ryan trumpeted this at the 2010 election and then miraculously a consultant’s report stating it would cost $900 million appeared and the project was scrapped to get Peter Ryan of the political hook he had created for himself.
Discussions of the budget are overly optimistic. They look at the complete list and say there is "balance". However, it is the roads that will be built first. While many public transport projects have been identified, they do not commence for two or so years. This is plenty of time for a reluctant government to find reasons to delay them further.
The Metropolitan Network Plan talks of major capacity challenges on all suburban lines in the next two years. The Metro Rail tunnel was the way to solve much of these. It was also identified as the precursor to the new lines to Rowville and the Airport. The Metro project was ready to go two years ago and had a high benefit/cost ratio (far higher than the East-West Freeway Link). After two years of inaction, it will be studied again and a less useful route selected. If you build the wrong project, you will never get around to building the right one.
I think we need to go back to the Infrastructure Australia approach and get the politics out of transport infrastructure planning. Identify all the projects, do the benefit/cost sums on each and then rank them in order on a list. Then apply the funding until you do as many as you can afford.
If we look at recent history in NSW and Victoria we see too much to and fro as plans are made and then unmade whenever a government changes.