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Tens of thousands of motorists a day should ditch cars to travel on a new underground rail line between Cheltenham and Box Hill once built, secret modelling shows.
The wider benefits of the Andrews Government’s Suburban Rail Loop, which would eventually connect Cheltenham to Werribee via 90km of track, are to be unveiled next month in a long-awaited investment case.
One of the keys to getting motorists off the road and into trains will be the speed of services, which the Herald Sun recently revealed as 22 minutes for Stage One from Box Hill to Cheltenham.
The government says modelling on transport choices — which the government has not yet released — shows 32,500 motorists would switch to trains every day, clearing the way for other road commuters.
It’s hoped tens of thousands of motorists a day will ditch cars to travel on a new underground rail.
Daily patronage on new loop trains is expected to be significantly higher that this, but acting minister for the Suburban Rail Loop, Ben Carroll, said the traffic modelling showed benefits for all transport users.
“Suburban Rail Loop will dramatically ease congestion on Melbourne’s roads, encouraging thousands of people every day to leave their cars at home and jump on a better public transport network,” he said.
“Whether you take the train or drive the car, Suburban Rail Loop is going to change how people get around our city and state.”
The planned route for the Suburban Rail Loop
The government says motorists going between Monash and Fishermans Bend employment precincts in the morning peak would save 11 minutes.
Once the loop is built through to Melbourne Airport, 600,000 daily car trips would be avoided.
Questions have been raised about the value and feasibility of the Suburban Rail Loop, which doesn’t yet have a price tag and is not funded.
The government has already pledged construction would begin on this stage of the project, next year.
The government’s investment case is expected to show the cost for only the first 26km built between Cheltenham and Box Hill, which transport experts expect to be in the tens of billions of dollars.
It’s expected travel from Box Hill to Cheltenham will take 22 minutes.
Already $2.5 billion is being spent on planning and early works, with hundreds of home and business owners told they are likely have properties demolished to make way for stations built near to Southland, at Clayton, near to Monash University, at Glen Waverley, near to Deakin University in Burwood, and at Box Hill.
More than 500 boreholes have been drilled to test underground conditions, with a million hours worked by planners, engineers, and other staff.
One of the keys to boosting patronage would be service frequency, according to Public Transport Users Association spokesman Daniel Bowen.
Using government figures showing 13 trains are likely to be stored at a stabling yard as part of the project, he said this could lead to trains every 5 or 6 minutes.
“At what time will this high frequency apply?” he said.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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