Victorian government to spend A$9.3 billion on first stage of Suburban Rail Loop

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Thursday, November 25, 2021

Map of the proposed Suburban Rail Loop.
Image: State of Victoria (Major Transport Infrastructure Authority).

The state government of Victoria, Australia announced today they are to spend A$9.3 billion to fast-track the first stage of Suburban Rail Loop (SRL) construction, which is now scheduled to begin in 2022.

Initially proposed by Premier Daniel Andrews in 2018, the SRL is a planned orbital rail line, to be built mainly underground, which would connect ten railway lines in Melbourne, and turn the city's current CBD-focused radial network into one which involves circular connections.

In a press release today, the Premier of Victoria's office confirmed construction of the eastern section of the line (referred to as SRL East) will begin in 2022 as a result of the new funding. As part of the project, two joint 26 km railway tunnels are to be built from Cheltenham to Box Hill. Six underground stations will also be constructed. It is claimed by the Premier's office, between stations, journeys will only take 3-4 minutes, while a Cheltenham to Box Hill trip to take 22 minutes. SRL East is scheduled to be operational by 2035.

A business case for SRL East and North was announced by Suburban Rail Loop minister Jacinta Allan was revealed in August. While SRL North, to be built from Box Hill to Melbourne–Tullamarine Airport, was not costed, the estimated price for the construction of SRL East was between A$30-34.5 billion.

The contract for the first stage of construction has been granted to construction group Laing O'Rourke, with the company's managing director in Australia Cathal O'Rourke remarking they were "delighted to partner with the Victorian Government" and "appreciate the trust placed in us to deliver great outcomes for the community".