A $50 billion Suburban Rail Loop, promised by Labor if it reclaims government in the November state election, will take decades to have a significant impact on Wyndham.
The government last week unveiled plans for a 90-kilometre underground rail track that would connect every major train line from Werribee to Cheltenham stations and provide a direct rail link to Melbourne Airport.
But while the south-east section between the Frankston line and Box Hill has been identified as a “delivery priority”, the Sunshine to Werribee section will be “constructed in sections over a period of decades”, according to preliminary plans for the project.
Furthermore, commuters in the west will be able to board loop trains only from Werribee or Sunshine.
The government’s strategic assessment states that there is the potential for new stations in the west to be added, depending on design, but the government would not disclose what other stations are being considered for the west.
Labor has committed to allocating $300 million for a full business case, design and pre-construction work if it wins the November state election, with work on the first section, in Melbourne’s south-east, expected to begin by the end of 2022.
Construction of the project, which is expected to take 30 years to complete, will require funding from the federal government and the private sector.
A government spokeswoman did not answer Star Weekly’s specific questions about what parts of the western section will be underground, whether or not the project has the backing of the federal government, if there’s potential for the loop to connect with the Regional Rail Link and about property acquisitions.
“Werribee locals will benefit from the Suburban Rail Loop, which will create a super hub at Sunshine connecting to new stations at Monash, La Trobe, Deakin and jobs precincts,” she said.
Wyndham mayor Peter Maynard said that while the council welcomed the announcement, more needed to be done.
“A proposed link from the Werribee railway station to Melbourne Airport via Sunshine is welcome news for our residents and the continued economic stimulus of this region,” Cr Maynard said. “However, with the Werribee line and the Regional Rail Link already at capacity, more is needed to ensure Wyndham and Melbourne’s west is not left behind.
“Given how many stations are planned for the eastern suburbs, additional stations between Werribee and Sunshine … are needed to provide access to employment precincts and support our record population growth.”
Jonathon Marsden from the Western Transport Alliance branded the announcement a “bold vision”, but called on the government to focus on improving the region’s immediate public transport woes, including bus and train services.