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PostPosted: 09 Dec 2008, 09:59 
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http://www.theage.com.au/national/something-for-everyone-x2014-and-therein-lies-the-problem-20081208-6u1w.html

From The Age

Something for everyone — and therein lies the problem
Tim Colebatch
December 9, 2008

A TRANSPORT plan as big as this — investing $38 billion over 12 years — can transform the city it serves, or give it more of what it already has. But this is John Brumby's plan, so it tries to do both.

Melbourne is one of the world's most spread-out cities, small islands of high-density housing amid a vast sea of low-density, mostly single-storey homes set in gardens. It is inevitable that a city like that will rely on cars for its transport needs.

But it's the 21st century, and car emissions cause global warming. Melbourne's population is nearing 4 million, heading for 5 million, and its roads are congested as never before. The planners say that instead of building out, we should build up, creating a different kind of city where trains, trams and bicycles can take us where we need to go.

And where is the Brumby Government on this? Everywhere.

Last week John Brumby announced yet another expansion of Melbourne's urban boundaries, pledging to rezone enough rural land for 134,000 new homes. Yet he also made a fresh move to get Melbourne to build up, selecting just six of the 116 activity centres identified by Melbourne 2030 as priority business centres, to create momentum for their redevelopment.

We are moving ahead at full speed, in both directions.

Brumby declares the new Victorian Transport Plan "transformational", and in a sense it is. In recent times, 80 to 90 per cent of the state's transport investment has gone into roads and only 10 to 20 per cent on rail. In this plan, it's roughly 50/50, and it proposes investment in rail on a scale not seen since the 19th century.

Assuming Commonwealth funding — and the plan assumes Canberra will pay a third of the total cost, although it has committed only $3 billion so far — by 2020 Victoria will build two significant new rail lines, extend or electrify five others into rapidly developing suburbs, and invest $4.5 billion on new trains, trams, and buses.

In 1999 Steve Bracks promised to spend $80 million to upgrade rail tracks on four lines. Regional Fast Rail ended up costing more than 10 times that, and even then many of its best ideas were jettisoned to keep costs down. Now the money is there, or assumed to be there. These projects are staggeringly expensive. For the South Morang line, to build 3.6 kilometres of track and a new station, duplicate five kilometres of track closer in, and enlarge Thomastown station will cost $650 million. To electrify 15 kilometres of track to Sunbury will cost $270 million. To electrify the track as far as Melton (with new stations and improvements, of course) will cost $1.3 billion.

The two tunnels in Sir Rod Eddington's report on east-west options were costed at $16 billion as a preliminary estimate. And few voters saw them as meeting their own transport needs.

So instead, Brumby is offering us a smorgasbord: 60 projects, in roads, rail, trams, buses, bicycles, ports, even regional airports. Some are already under way or programmed. Others are new projects, whether on roads, tracks, buying new trains, trams and buses, freight terminals, etc. There's something for everyone.

Half that spending would be on four big projects: two road, two rail. What remains of Eddington's road tunnel is a $5 billion tunnel under the Maribyrnong River and the western suburbs to link the Dynon Road freight terminal to its supply sources, via the Geelong road and the Western Ring Road. We need roads like this for Melbourne to work, yet remain liveable.

The second road costs even more: $6 billion-plus to build a nine-kilometre freeway underground from Greensborough to Bulleen. It's the link our rulers left out of the Outer Ring Road, because they assumed it would have to go through Eltham, and even Jeff Kennett was not game to try that. But if money is no problem, we can build it underground, without going anywhere near Eltham. Just don't be surprised if it ends up as a toll road.

The Tarneit-Sunshine rail link proposed by Eddington would be expanded into a $4 billion line from Werribee to Southern Cross, creating a dedicated double track for regional passenger trains from Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo, with a spur line to serve the new suburbs of Tarneit and Wyndham Vale.

Eddington also proposed a rail tunnel from Footscray to Caulfield. Brumby has promised to build only the central bit. Even that would cost $4.5 billion, a cost he defended as kicking off "the development of a metro system in Melbourne".

But it doesn't do that, and can't, unless we have planning policies that create population densities where public transport becomes our best option for getting around. This plan sets some good priorities, but in trying to please everyone, it lacks a clear strategy.

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PostPosted: 09 Dec 2008, 10:00 
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http://www.theage.com.au/national/funds-may-be-uncertain-but-the-need-to-proceed-is-definite-20081208-6u1v.html

From The Age

Funds may be uncertain, but the need to proceed is definite
Marc Moncrief
December 9, 2008

JOHN Brumby's $38 billion plan to redesign Victoria's transport system depends on Federal Government money that is unbudgeted, uncertain and — as far as the public knows — uncommitted.

Delivering the much-awaited plan yesterday, Brumby said he would need $13 billion from the Federal Government over 12 years to clear Melbourne's streets, link the city's major road arteries and boost capacity on the state's rail system.

The figure includes $2.8 billion in money already promised by the Commonwealth and an additional $10.2 billion in money hoped for from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's Building Australia Fund.

It is not the first time the $10 billion figure has been floated, and it is a figure that comes with some controversy.

The state has been pressuring the Commonwealth for a commitment of at least $10 billion since federal Treasurer Wayne Swan publicly questioned whether the global financial crisis would allow the Government to deliver on its promise of $40 billion to invest in transport, health and education.

The issue came to a head in the lead-up to last month's meeting of the Council of Australian Governments in Canberra.

Yesterday, federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese would not guarantee the money but Brumby spoke like a man who had been given a wink and a nod.

"I have seen a lot of the Prime Minister in recent times," Brumby said. "I believe that we are as well placed as we could possibly be in terms of funding for this program."

The State Government will pitch $25 billion into the mix, with $180 million in additional spending this year alone.

Nevertheless, Brumby said Victoria could deliver the plan without taking on too much debt or running the state into deficit.

"Our surplus is fine," Brumby said yesterday.

The promise of 10,000 jobs created every year over the life of the plan should help, as every job brings more money to the state's coffers through payroll tax

Victoria is already believed to have between $3 billion and $5 billion unallocated and available for the plan, and Brumby said the state would be ready to borrow to pay for its share.

Over the life of the project, the Victorian Government will spend about $12.3 billion of its own money on new trams, new trains and train stations, improved suburban and regional roads, new bus services, new bicycle paths and a slough of other, smaller projects.

But the big-ticket items — the $4 billion rail link from West Werribee to Southern Cross, the $2.5 billion road alternative to the West Gate Bridge, the $4.5 billion rail tunnel, the $1.3 billion Melton rail upgrade and the $6 billion link between the Metropolitan Ring Road and the Eastern Freeway — all rely on the Commonwealth sharing the burden with the state.

RACV's general manager of public policy, Brian Negus, said that, even if the feds failed to come through quickly, the state must ensure the projects proceeded — and should look to tolls to make up the difference if necessary.

"We are looking to the State Government to make solid commitments to this plan," Negus said. "If the Federal Government does not come good with funding, we don't think that is an excuse for the State Government not to get on with delivery."

But going ahead with such projects with less federal money than demanded would require substantial private partnerships, and such projects are hard to sell, with investors spooked by the global financial crisis.

The stress on investors in major projects is made obvious in the transport plan by the gaping absence of Sir Rod Eddington's road tunnel from the Eastern Freeway to the western suburbs.

About half the tunnel proposed by Eddington is covered by roads linking the port to West Footscray and, later, to the Western Ring Road.

Both of these projects will take precedence over a final toll road between the port and the Eastern Freeway, seen as a major project to relieve congestion on Alexandra Parade and Hoddle Street.

Brumby said there were too many comparable infrastructure assets on sale around the world that would compete for private money in the slowing economy to make the entire Eddington tunnel feasible now.

"It's such a huge project," Brumby said of the road tunnel across the city. "In the current environment, that would be a difficult project to undertake."

He said other projects in the transport plan would do more to ease congestion at the end of the Eastern Freeway, including a $5 million investigation into flyovers or underpasses at intersections on Hoddle Street and $360 million for an upgraded bus service from Doncaster to the city's centre.

As if to underline Brumby's caution over the toll tunnel, ratings agency Moody's yesterday said the company that operates Sydney's Lane Cove Tunnel, one of a number of struggling toll road tunnel projects around the country, was creeping nearer to default on its debt.

Nevertheless, the Victorian Government suggested a road tunnel from the Eastern Freeway to the Metropolitan Ring Road could be built as a toll road with substantial private money.
Ernst & Young specialist Darren Grimsey said the model of public-private partnership that had been developed in Victoria was broken, but different models were being developed around the world that could allay investors' concerns.

In Europe, for example, governments are guaranteeing some of the investment of their private-sector partners against the risk that projects were not used as much as expected.

Grimsey said private investors were still sceptical about major road projects paid for through traditional public-private partnerships, but Infrastructure Partnerships Australia executive director Brendan Lyon said the state's losses would increase the longer major projects were delayed by the global crisis.

"Australia faces long-term infrastructure challenges," Lyon said. "No matter how bad it is, the global financial crisis will be a short-term phenomenon. The Victorian Government is right to get on with the job of planning key infrastructure now to address current and future challenges."

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http://www.thecollectormm.com.au/


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PostPosted: 09 Dec 2008, 18:09 
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So what exactly does the Tarniet spur mean? Is it not a railway line in its own right? Looks like the railway tunnel duplicates the city loop to a large extent.


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PostPosted: 17 Dec 2008, 10:40 
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topahend wrote:
So what exactly does the Tarniet spur mean? Is it not a railway line in its own right? Looks like the railway tunnel duplicates the city loop to a large extent.


The Tarneit line proposed by Eddington and the government is not a branch line (spur). It is supposed to be a by-pass line for Geelong trains to and from Melbourne, running from a junction with the Geelong line south-west of Werribee, to near Deer Park on the Ballarat line. This will avoid present capacity restraints on the Geelong line between Altona Junction and Footscray, but it also by-passes Werribee, Laverton & Newport stations, which are currently important interchange points.

However the line is also supposed to have a second function, serving (an unspecified number of) stations to be provided in the Tarneit area.

Therein lies one of the major problems with the idea. By having to to perform two functions, the line is unlikely to perform either of them well. Given the roundabout route of the line, further time will be added to Melbourne - Geelong journeys if Geelong line trains stop at Tarneit stations. On the other hand, passengers from Tarneit area stations will have to take a very roundabout journey to get to their most obvious local destinations in the Werribee and Laverton area.

As my comments above imply, there is a lot of uncertainty about how the Tarneit line will be set up and operated. Apparently it wont be electrified, and will have only two tracks, but no detailed plans have been sighted. Yet the state government is going to ask the federal government to provide over a billion dollars to fund the project.


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PostPosted: 17 Dec 2008, 19:13 
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No electricity. That's poor!

So is this the layout of the Tarniet line?
Image

I remember reading that it branched off from Laverton :? Anyway could be the beginning of an outer rail loop.


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PostPosted: 17 Dec 2008, 22:45 
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topahend wrote:
No electricity. That's poor!

So is this the layout of the Tarniet line?
Image

I remember reading that it branched off from Laverton :? Anyway could be the beginning of an outer rail loop.


Your route is very roughly correct, but here is a map from the Eddington report which shows one version of the proposal. As you can see, it's anything but straight!

Image

Note that five "possible" stations are marked on the line itself, with a sixth on at the junction with the Ballarat line. Strangely, no station is shown at the junction with the Geelong line, but on a map on the next page of the Eddington report, a "West Werribee" station is shown at that point, so the report itself is inconsistent.

As well, no-one has said precisely how many stations will be constructed on the line initially, or where they will be sited. The government's transport plan is extremely vague on this point. The Werribee Banner noted, "It is unclear whether the line will eventually include new stations at Tarneit and Wyndham Vale as recommended in the Eddington report". But of course the map from the report shown above appears to "recommend" five stations.


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