The Null Device
Secret plans by the Victorian government to build a 15-kilometre underground railway line under Melbourne. The line would link North Melbourne and Caulfield, and take two of the sets of lines that currently go through the loop. It looks like the loop would be left servicing the Burnley and Clifton Hill lines, and possibly the Sandringham line, and Richmond and South Yarra stations would become a lot less busy, losing a few now redundant platforms.
Internal emails show the option favoured by the Department of Infrastructure was for a 15-kilometre underground rail line linking North Melbourne and Caulfield stations, which would include new subway stations at Royal Parade (intersection of Royal Parade and Flemington Road, servicing the University Of Melbourne), Melbourne Central (upgrade of existing station), Flinders Street (underground extension to the train station), and Domain (intersection of Domain and St Kilda roads).The whole exercise is said to cost only AUD2bn, which sounds implausibly cheap for 15 kilometres of tunnel. Public transport advocates are not impressed, though, and assert that the money could be better spent extending the railway network to car-dependent areas like Doncaster, and finally running a railway line down that invitingly wide median strip along the Eastern Freeway.
If this scheme goes ahead, though, it looks quite plausible to extend it to the Doncaster line. Given that it goes from North Melbourne station to the corner of Royal Parade and Flemington Road and then down Swanston Street, it would execute a pretty tight S-shaped turn under North Melbourne, and be heading east at Royal Parade. Thence, it would be fairly simple to have a branch line going straight east, under Carlton (possibly with a station on Lygon Street), Fitzroy (with a possible station near Brunswick or Smith Street) and Collingwood, before emerging right in the middle of the freeway. Whether any government would stump up the money (especially when car-dependent swinging electorates want more freeways and cheaper petrol) is another question.
Meanwhile, British transport consultant Sir Rod Eddington, who has been contracted to do a study on Melbourne's transport needs, has said that Melbourne's transport system is still "a work in progress". Then again, couldn't the same thing be said about London's (at least by Ken Livingstone)?