New plan for major Melb rail line unveiled

By Danny Rose
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New plan for major Melb rail line unveiled

The Victorian government has unveiled plans to revamp Melbourne's busiest rail corridor.

Melbourne's busiest train line will remain under public control after former coalition government plans for a consortium-backed overhaul were dumped in favour of a beefed-up and more expensive alternative.

The new plan for the Cranbourne-Pakenham line includes removing nine level crossings, up from four in the coalition plan, and rebuilding four railway stations, up from three.

A tender process will be held but the cost is expected to top the $2.5 billion coalition plan, which had required control of the line to be handed to a private consortium for 20 years.

The new cost would land somewhere between $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion, Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday.

"There are nine level crossings on the Dandenong Cranbourne-Pakenham line and all of them will go," he said.

Boom gates on the line are closed for up to 90 minutes during the morning peak, as a major contributor to traffic congestion.

The government will buy 37 new high capacity trains (up from 25) and at least half will be built within Victoria, to boost capacity on the line by about 40 per cent.

The level crossings will be removed by 2018, with new trains ready to be brought on-line from then.

A new train depot will be built at Pakenham and a trial of high-capacity signalling staged on the Sandringham line.

The government believed handing control of the line to a private consortium would isolate it, and complicate efforts to make network-wide improvements.

Instead, it purchased the consortium's plans and used this as the foundation for the new proposal.

Opposition leader Matthew Guy said the government had mostly "re-badged" its ideas.

"This is going to cause more delay for commuters on Melbourne's busiest line," Mr Guy also said.