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Prime Minister Tony Abbott supports improving Melbourne's rail network and says he will help the state build it by funding major road projects including the East West Link.
Mr Abbott told Jon Faine on ABC radio that his government was looking at ways to help fund stage two of the East West Link and indicated that both sections could be built at the same time.
The Commonwealth has already committed $1.5 billion to stage one of the project – a tunnel between Clifton Hill and Parkville.
Asked about employment in Victoria, Mr Abbott said he had been talking to Premier Denis Napthine about the second stage of East West link.
It is projected that stage one of East West Link will create more than 3200 jobs.
"If we can do the two [sections] concurrently obviously that's another 3000 or more jobs," Mr Abbott said.
He said he did want to see better metropolitan rail in Melbourne but reiterated it was not a project that the Commonwealth should fund as it was an asset owned by the state.
"If we're tipping billions of dollars into East West Link it makes it a lot easier for the state to then get cracking with Metro rail," Mr Abbott said.
"I want to make sure it's easy for the state to get on with building the most important piece of infrastructure in Victoria which is East West Link."
Victorian Shadow Minister for Public Transport Jill Hennessy said Dr Napthine had put the rail project on ice.
‘‘You cannot improve train services across the city and suburbs without building Melbourne Metro and the Napthine government has stalled on its delivery,’’ Ms Hennessy said.
‘‘Labor is committed to Melbourne Metro and we have seen next to nothing from the Napthine government on public transport over the last three years.’’
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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