Public transport: Vic budget in a holding pattern ahead of Metro tunnel opening

Train departing platform

The Victorian State Budget presented no earth-shattering surprises, but did include some welcome if modest investment in public transport services, the Public Transport Users Association said today.

“There are some worthwhile upgrades for buses and V/Line which perhaps are not revolutionary, but will offer more travel options for people in regional Victoria and outer Melbourne”, said PTUA spokesperson Daniel Bowen.

“Also welcome is investment in rail to improve reliability for both Metro and V/Line, and the news of progress on freight rail including the long-awaited Port rail shuttles.”

Meanwhile the Budget confirmed a delay of at least four years for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.

“Both trains and planes are notorious for delays, and so too the rail link to the airport has also been delayed again. This is disappointing, but unfortunately not surprising. The government and Melbourne Airport need to find a solution so this project can push ahead”, said Mr Bowen.

Mr Bowen said the funding for the final stages of the Metro tunnel was good news, but the key question will be the level of service once it opens in 2025.

“While the government likes to talk about the tunnel enabling trains every 3 minutes, we need to see a commitment to high frequency trains all day every day, to make the most of the investment.

“The Metro tunnel is the government’s big chance to bring Melbourne’s rail system into the 21st century, and provide it with the all-day frequent services our growing city needs. If we get a shiny new tunnel but most people around the metro network are still waiting 20, 30, 40 minutes for a train, it will be a huge missed opportunity.”

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