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Australian Public Transport projects & stuff

The station locations for the first section of the SRL here in Melbourne were unveiled yesterday, along with a whopping $2.2 billion in next week's state covid budget for early works.

The actual designs for each station are still underway and will include interchanges with existing lines.


The map gives a good idea re: station spacing on the new line versus all the existing lines it touches in the first phase.
 
A cool $1 billion has been put in this year's state budget for more Melbourne fleet renewal. The Gov have chosen Alstom to build 25 new versions of the X'Trapolis platform we already have running on various lines. X'Trap 2.0 (and the 65 Evolution/HCMT trains) is going to go along way to replacing the Comeng fleet.

They've even flagged they'll run on specific lines - Craigieburn, Frankston and Upfield (two of those, have been mooted to be joined through a reconfiguration of the City loop) - which has got a few people excited.

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It's a lot more polished than the version we saw a few years ago

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Since the last post we've learnt a few things about the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.

It's definitely piggybacking off the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project but Melbourne's West is getting a ginormous bridge - presumably to get around reconfiguring a 1960s-era level crossing removal and conflicting movements on the mainline - .

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And we've seen concepts of the required new bridge over the Maribyrnong River alongside the interstate network

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Speaking of Melbourne Metro Tunnel, the TBMs finished their work yesterday... from here on in it's just tunnel and station fitout & testing to do.

 
Further to above, we're seeing more videos/renders of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link - still nothing on the airport station as yet (likely cos that'll be a federal planning thing). but it's all pretty clear what new infrastructure is going to be built now.

MARL's going to use the MM1 tunnel / be part of that separate network that's being created (Pakenham/Cranbourne lines in the south-east through to Sunbury in the north-west, Airport will be a second branch to balance things on the western side), the major works really start at Sunshine, which is getting a second concourse for transfers:


about a kilometre down the line, a new rail bridge is going to be built above a road bridge that is above a rail corridor (lol).


next big feature is a new Maribyrnong River bridge:


and the last we now h ave renders for is the giant viaduct across the Western Ring Road (orbital freeway) - essentially where the new rail corridor starts.

 
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The vast suite of documents underpinning the SRL in Melbourne have been released, you can see the business and investment cases along with all their appendices including an economic appraisal here: https://suburbanrailloop.vic.gov.au/Library/BusinessandInvestmentCase

On the other hand, Infrastructure Victoria, released it's updated infrastructure strategy, a component of which are various other transport initiatives. All the doco is here: https://www.infrastructurevictoria.com.au/project/30-year-strategy/

Infrastructure Victoria is an advisory body only - gov doesn't have to like, hate, or even do the projects they look at - their work is very good for public debate though.

Happy (lots of) reading!
 
They're not very good / valid points on value for money because the assumptions in the video were about 3 years old and literally days later after it was published the main document suite underpinning the project got released. In short, the video/op-ed was dead in the water within days.

There's also this weird-type of cultural appropriation of incrementalism underpinning some of the arguments which just doesn't/wouldn't happen here. Might be second nature to you guys, but things don't work like that in Australia - academics here argue for it, but continually, governments ignore that and justify investments in other ways. Plus, I think Australian states, especially labor ones, are going to be leading on breaking the neo-liberal paradigm over the next few years - you guys don't have a strong left like we do.

(Basic premise of incrementalism seems to be: you should do it with buses first! No, you won't get the same transformative effect and the existing bus network as a whole (and the need to reform it) is a different project that can and is looking likely it'll run concurrently - it's not a binary choice as it is presented/inferred in the video. Likewise the SRL business/investment case states the project will spark bus reform anyhow).

The business and investment case for the project done by KPMG on behalf of the SRL authority who's going to implement the project found SRL East and SRL North (60ish km total, Southland to Airport) built as a driverless, closed system with three different phase openings, has a benefit-cost ratio range of 1.1-1.7. I'll take that kind of information versus the relatively poorly argued "it's too expensive" argument in the video in a heartbeat.

And that 1.1-1.7 return is based on an investment/implementation period over 20 years, which can easily be supported by the state's balance sheet or use of debt financing. And guess what, nothing's binary - during this same timeframe the business case assumes other massive projects are complete by certain dates across the public transport and road spectrum.

(2035, 2038, 2041 are the stated opening milestones - they'll likely change (for the better, more like) when the market comes back to the gov on price and timeframes and build, but for the moment the business and investment case doco is our new gospel / has most accurate data and is coupled with mass redevelopment plans in many of the new station precincts).
 
A fair whack more info has been released on the SRL project this past week - the full EES is now online here: https://srleastees.vic.gov.au/#/

Other changes since my last post: a new bill was introduced to the state parliament (and passed) which formally sets up the Suburban Rail Loop Authority which will implement the whole project but there's also a tweak.

The SRLA and the Minister for it will be the planning authority for land use around the SRL stations - and not the planning Minister. Pretty sure this kind of thing hasnt been done in Australia before.

We also have had some technical questions answered / or more to the point, more information about what the trains will look like.

- Confirmed 4 car (and EES doco says 93m) long trains.
- They'll be the widest trains in Melbourne and pretty sure for Australia at 3.2m (Melb stock is generally 3.05m, Sydney is 3.03-3.04m wide)
- Alternating Current overhead rather than Direct Current like in the rest of the network (the Sydney network is the same as Melb network but with Sydney Metro line 1 they decided to stay on DC, SRL which is our equivelent of the first new independent of existing system network will be AC).
- Track corridor/tunnel to be built with max 4% grades, min 400m curve radius with a design top speed of 110kph but operational speed will be limited to 100kph.

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We also have some interest rationale on why the tunneling will be two single track bores versus a single double track bore (this kind of info has been scant in Australia):


PD12.1 Tunnel arrangement options
An assessment of two potential tunnel forms was undertaken to determine the optimal size of tunnels. This included consideration of one large diameter tunnel with an internal diameter of 10.35 metres (mono-bore tunnel) that could accommodate two trains with a separation wall; and twin rail tunnels (each with an internal diameter of 6.3 metres), with one train in each tunnel, joined by cross passages.

The twin tunnel option was identified as the preferred option. While this option has greater constructability complexity and would require cross passages, the overall deliverability and cost outcomes are more favourable. The assessment determined the twin tunnel option would:

  • Produce 25 per cent less spoil
  • Require 59 per cent less concrete
  • Consume 53 per cent less steel
  • Provide flexibility for the varying station box widths and island platforms
  • Reduce the delivery program for tunnels by 2 months
  • Save approximately $1 billion in the project delivery cost
  • Reduce operating costs based on the reduced vertical transport, staffing and maintenance from the ability to utilise island platforms.
The tunnel will also likely involve 6 TBMs and take 3-4 years to complete:

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As part of the EES they have nominated one of the 4 interchanges to have paid-area interchanges from day 1. 1 of them (Southland) will likely stay without a paid-area interchange*, and the other two are dependent on the wider Department of Transport to find the funding to augment existing stations to cater for eventual paid-area interchanges. Basically the EES/SRL project scope is pushing two of the three paid-area interchanges out of their scope and putting it in the queue for work through normal/other budgetary and network measures.

One of them Glen Waverley, as per EES, will achieve a pretty good non-paid area interchange by pedestrianising a street and the entrances to both the existing and SRL station will be less than 100m apart. We just have to wait to see what Metro (existing network operators) or the DoT plan to do with this station as it may well be getting rebuilt in the medium term as part of a separate rail project (City Loop reconfig).
The other at Box Hill, which is a station with a shopping centre (mall) directly on top of it already has a very large scale private sector proposal to alter the shopping centre and this may (or it feels like the SRLA are pushing for that PPP) further integrate a paid-area interchange. As part of the EES, it's like at Glen Waverley there'll be a 100m or so walk between entrances.
The one which will likely not get a pair area interchange is at the southern end in Southland where the site is difficult and the existing network station was only recently built (after decades of inaction). The rub is that the non-paid area interchange will be about 250-300m.

And apart from all that, at all stations, there is significant land acquisition that after building, the state gov will control the parcels for redevelopment.

Here's the EES plans for the stations - each will be subject to a separate planning process for redeveloping once complete, and as per this quirk in the change of planning authority, the SRLA will be the responsible authority for these.

Southland/Cheltenham (interchange with Frankston):

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Clayton (interchange with Pakenham/Cranbourne and La Trobe valley regional services)

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Monash (brand new station adjacent to the main university campus of the same name and within a precinct that already has the highest concentration of jobs outside central Melbourne)

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Glen Waverley (interchange with the Glen Waverley line)

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Burwood (brand new station adjacent to Deaking Unviersity's main campus, new tram stop out the front)

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Box Hill (interchange with Belgrave/Lilydale lines and Blackburn short-stopping services)

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Introducing, the G Class. (A Flexity mark 2 - a shortened/variant on what we call the E-Class locally).

Vic gov just announced Alstom got the contract for the generation Melbourne trams. The $1.85 billion pricetag also includes a brand new depot in the West to supplant capacity at another.


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Current fleet breakdown:


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(this new order is pretty much a like-for-like replacement of the Z class - but the new trams will have almost double the capacity, the gov also claims these 150 passengers on a new G class will be using 30-40% less energy per passenger compared to E-class too!).
 
For the data nerds out there,

specs for the next generation of Xtrapolis (Xtrap 2.0 as known locally) trains that are now ordered,m with new people being recruited in Ballarat to build.

(they're replacing Comeng on 3 different lines [including my own, woot]).

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An update - we had another state election two weeks ago and despite the media getting it horribly wrong, the Andrews gov (of the past 2 terms / 8 years) was returned, likely with an extra seat (!).

The Big Build agenda rolls on - Suburban Rail Loop/SRL was definitely 'on the ballot' (again) this election and the Deputy Premier / Transport Infrastructure Minister wasted no time and did a victory lap around an SRL station site at Clayton in Melb's S.E. All systems definitely go on SRL East (Cheltenham-Box Hill).

The (Melbourne) Airport Rail Link has now been rebranded as SRL Airport (which on the original SRL maps is the section from Sunshine in the west to the airport in the north-west) - not unexpected but it'll be operated by the same trains as what will run through the metro tunnel. The two systems - our existing network and the new operationally independent SRL East (and future North) systems will 'meet' at the airport station in two decades (because that's how long the line in the East will probably take to get all the way around the north of the metro to the airport).

Not in the election but expected to hear something during this new 4 year term, is what's dubbed Melbourne Metro 2 - another cross-town inner-city line for the existing network linking lines in the west/south-west with those in the north-east. Ditto the tram network will hopefully get some loving and further electrifications in the west will get a better look-in (thanks to pure electoral politics and the percept that the ALP - the party in government - is neglected its core western suburbs constituents).
 
An update - we had another state election two weeks ago and despite the media getting it horribly wrong, the Andrews gov (of the past 2 terms / 8 years) was returned, likely with an extra seat (!).

The Big Build agenda rolls on - Suburban Rail Loop/SRL was definitely 'on the ballot' (again) this election and the Deputy Premier / Transport Infrastructure Minister wasted no time and did a victory lap around an SRL station site at Clayton in Melb's S.E. All systems definitely go on SRL East (Cheltenham-Box Hill).

The (Melbourne) Airport Rail Link has now been rebranded as SRL Airport (which on the original SRL maps is the section from Sunshine in the west to the airport in the north-west) - not unexpected but it'll be operated by the same trains as what will run through the metro tunnel. The two systems - our existing network and the new operationally independent SRL East (and future North) systems will 'meet' at the airport station in two decades (because that's how long the line in the East will probably take to get all the way around the north of the metro to the airport).

Not in the election but expected to hear something during this new 4 year term, is what's dubbed Melbourne Metro 2 - another cross-town inner-city line for the existing network linking lines in the west/south-west with those in the north-east. Ditto the tram network will hopefully get some loving and further electrifications in the west will get a better look-in (thanks to pure electoral politics and the percept that the ALP - the party in government - is neglected its core western suburbs constituents).
Thanks for being our senior Australian affairs correspondent, tays. Your contributions are always appreciated
 

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