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The Victorian Government reveals the future Suburban Rail Loop will begin at Southland Shopping Centre, as it commits $2.2 billion to fund early works on the project from 2022.
The full project aims to eventually link every major train line between Frankston and Werribee, via Melbourne Airport.
Next week's budget will include $2.2 billion for early works for the first 26 kilometres of the project.
No date has been set for completion, but the money announced today will allow early works to begin in 2022.
The Government has also announced the preferred site of six new underground stations for the first leg of the loop from Cheltenham to Box Hill.
Stations will be built next to Monash and Deakin universities, while a new station at Clayton will serve as interchange with V/Line services and Cranbourne-Pakenham trains.
"This is all about connecting people to where they work, where they live, less cars on the road, less trips to the city if you don't need to make those trips," Premier Daniel Andrews said.
"This project is real. This is exactly what we said we would do — we would get on and make this project real."
Mr Andrews said the project would "help drive the state's recovery" from the pandemic.
Despite the eye-watering bill for the early works, the Government has not revealed how much the total project will cost, saying a full cost analysis is still underway.
When the project was first announced at the 2018 election, the estimates for the entire loop exceeded $50 billion.
By comparison, the 9-kilometre Metro Tunnel project is budgeted to cost $11 billion, but is facing cost blowouts.
An artist's impression of what the underground stations might look like once completed.(Supplied: Victorian Government)
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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