The Daniel Andrews government will spend $30-35 billion on the first stage of a suburban rail loop, which will start with a 26-kilometre line in eastern Melbourne.
Mr Andrews and Victoria’s Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan on Thursday committed an initial $9.3 billion toward the underground railroad section which runs between Cheltenham and Box Hill.
Construction is to begin next year and continue to 13 years until the scheduled completion in 2035.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (centre) and Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan (left) announce initial funding for a new rail link in eastern Melbourne.
UK-based firm Laing O’Rourke was awarded the tender for the project, which will include six stations along the route.
Mr Andrews said the total cost of the project’s first stage would be between $30 billion and $35 billion.
‘This costs a lot, but it costs so much more if you don’t build it,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘I will not have a situation where people look back on our government in decades to come and say, ‘If only they had gone and built something like this’,’ he said.
Mr Andrews urged the federal government and private sector to pitch in to the massive cost but maintained it was possible for the state to fund the project alone.
The full 90-kilometre train line was announced ahead of the 2018 state election and at the time was estimated to cost $50 billion.
The government has not detailed plans for the western section of the loop, between Melbourne Airport and Werribee, or provided costings for the northern section, between Box Hill and Melbourne Airport. The latter part is expected to be built by 2056.
Shadow treasurer David Davis said too many aspects of the project remained unknown.
‘The state has huge debt already and more debt, nearly $10 billion, is being added through this process,’ he said.