The Age: Swanston Street rip-up for Melbourne Metro rail akin to Berlin Wall: Napthine. February 17, 2014. Richard Willingham. State Political Correspondent for The Age
Rail project change of plan
Denis Napthine says tearing up Swanston Street for at least two years to build the Melbourne Metro rail project would be an absolute disaster.
Tearing up Swanston Street for at least two years to build the Melbourne Metro rail project would divide Melbourne worse than the Berlin Wall, Premier Denis Napthine says.
Dr Napthine on Monday confirmed reports that the state government was looking at alternative options for the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel. It had originally been planned to run from Kensington to Parkville, continue under Swanston Street with two CBD stations, then to the Domain Interchange and join at South Yarra station.
The Premier said the government was still committed to building a rail project to increase capacity on the state’s passenger and freight rail networks.
“We have a lot of options on the table, the original Metro rail capacity project had raised some challenges, particularly the proposal in that project of having Swanston Street closed for two years plus, and completely dug up,” he said.
Under the current plan, Swanston Street would be ripped up to build the rail line with a “cut-and-fill” technique, with engineers saying it was the best and most appropriate way to build the railway.
“I’m only a humble citizen of Melbourne and Victoria, but having a massive hole dividing Melbourne would be worse than the Berlin Wall; it would be absolutely detrimental to the operation of Melbourne,” Dr Napthine said.
“It would be an absolute disaster for Melbourne.”
The project has several problems including “very sloppy” ground south of the Yarra, compared to the strong basalt north of the river, making construction difficult.
He said CityLink had special “floating tunnels” because the quality of the ground was better, adding there had been 600 bore holes for testing completed for the project, many more than those done for the east-west link.
The Sunday Age reported that the project would cost $11.6 billion, but Dr Napthine said it was premature to put a cost estimate on rail project.
The report said that some stations may be removed from the project, with a station at Fishermans Bend possibly being included in the scheme.
The premier said any changes were in the early part of consideration, saying it would be irresponsible not to consider all ideas.
Dr Napthine failed to say if the final design would be known before the November 29 election, other than to say the project was part of the government’s infrastructure plan and the timeline to deliver it in “the back-half of this decade” remained.
Meanwhile, the premier has denied suggestions that there would be a ministerial reshuffle this week while parliament was in session. He said there would be “minor adjustments” made soon, after three ministers announced they would not contest November’s state election.