Who killed the Melbourne Metro?

The reasons given for scrapping the Melbourne Metro project in favour of the new ‘Fishermans Bend’ Melbourne Rail Project don’t stack up.  The premier and transport minister argue that Metro would dig up Swanston St and divide the city. Dr Napthine said that  “it was just too hard to build the Melbourne Metro because we had to rip up our street”

Is Napthine going to stuff up Melbournes Metro?

The truth is that, due to the Yarra River, the depth of existing city loop tunnels, and the limited gradients that our trains can manage, the Metro tunnel was more likely to be bored well below Swanston Street. In this case the only disruption being on sites where the stations are constructed. If anything, the depth of the stations was one of the identified disadvantages of this route as pedestrian access is more difficult.

The alternative scheme has several disadvantages. Not least of these is that it makes future train services to Parkville and Doncaster less likely. Public Transport Victoria’s 20 year network plan includes a project to decouple the South Morang Line at Clifton Hill and drive it in a tunnel to Parkville, then Southern Cross and terminating at Fishermens bend. This frees capacity to allow the Doncaster line to join the Hurstbridge line with manifold benefits for east-west and north-south travel, and may allow a train connection from Doncaster to Parkville if the East West link doesn’t take the median of the Eastern Freeway.

With the scrapping of Metro, the South Morang docupling and Doncaster Line may as well be consigned to history. How long till the department of truth tell’s PTV to remove the plan from their web site?

Unlike the East-West toll road, the Melbourne Metro project had the full support of Infrastructure Australia, the independent body charged with objectively assessing the mad schemes dreamt up by the pollsters advising the government.

Who exactly is pushing the new route? Is this new proposal, along with the circuitous airport link, designed to win over sceptical Frankston voters instead of fixing the Cranbourne line?  Are they trying to differentiate from the previous government’s product?

The relative merits of the two proposals have not been explained by the government or proponents.

  • How does this impact the station catchments?
  • What services are provided?
  • How does it fix capacity constraints in the loop?
  • What about congestion on the Swantston St trams
  • How to service the growing Parkville Research precinct?

The cost of tunnelling in the sloppy south-bank swamp is much higher than boring through the bluestone north of the yarra. The tunnels will have to float in the mud and are prone to leaking. Though station costs are reduced?

Sean Deany has started to explore some of the serious issues of this new route in his metro blog. Read more at Melbourne Metro System.

Alan Davies is also exploring this development at the Urbanist. His latest post is more sympathetic to the government’s latest scheme but still leaves significant issues and questions to be answered.

Watch this space.