The Victorian Government has unveiled an ambitious railway project designed to connect all suburbs in Melbourne.

The $50 billion underground suburban rail network, which is expected to be completed by 2050 in stages, will link every major rail line in Melbourne as well as the new airport rail.

Described as “the biggest transformation of public transport in Australian history”, the Suburban Rail Loop aims to ease the pressure and address the future needs of the fastest growing city in the country.

The 90km circle line will connect every major railway line from the Frankston line to the Werribee line via Melbourne Airport. The line would be partially underground between the Airport and Werribee.

Three new regional super-hubs at Clayton, Broadmeadows and Sunshine will benefit regional Victorian commuters, who will no longer need to travel into Melbourne CBD to access world-class education, jobs and health services, or other parts of the city.

The new line, which will circle Melbourne, will not only take thousands of vehicles off the road as well as passengers off existing rail lines but also reduce travel time for commuters.

Premier Daniel Andrews observed that the project was about connecting major education, health and employment precincts, about living closer to one’s place of work, and about taking hundreds of thousands of cars off the road

“The Suburban Rail Loop will get people to where they want to go – and more people on public transport means less traffic on the road for you.”

Highlights of the Suburban Rail Loop project include: South-east section running underground between Cheltenham and Box Hill with new rail tunnels linking the Frankston, Cranbourne-Pakenham, Glen Waverley and Belgrave-Lilydale lines; six new underground stations; north-east section connecting the Belgrave Lilydale line to the Hurstbridge, Mernda, Upfield and Craigieburn lines before heading to Melbourne Airport; north-west section comprising of the new Airport Rail Link; and the western section connecting to the Werribee line via the new Sunshine super-hub.

The Victorian Government will invest $300 million in business case development, detailed design and community consultation, which will commence in 2019, with work on the first stage expected to begin by the end of 2022.

Exact station locations, route alignment, rolling stock, and staging will be confirmed through the full business case and technical work, including extensive consultation and environmental assessments.

Premier Andrews has promised to start work on the orbital loop project if re-elected in November this year. 

Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan added, “Finally, Victorians will be able to catch public transport across and around the city – taking thousands of people off existing trains and slashing road congestion with up to 200,000 cars off our roads.”