The Null Device

The Melbourne Underground

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)?

There are 4 comments on "The Melbourne Underground":

Posted by: Loki http://restless.rimspace.net/ Mon Jan 29 03:21:06 2007

Hardly a secret plan - it's been on <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_proposed_Melbourne_rail_extensions#North_South_Rail_Tunnel_Metropolitan">Wikipedia</a> for months.

What it is, though, is pretty fucking stupid - an expensive underground line that's going to connect two of the least busy suburban lines to each other, possibly cutting them off from each other in the process? Now we just need more freeways that go nowhere.

At very least, it should have a couple more stations - one around Princes Park for example. And what stations would be lost because of this? Royal Park, Flemington Bridge and Macualay on the Upfield line, Prahran on the Sandringham?

A more sensible version would run along the proposed course from Flinders Street, north to the Uni, then curve east to Doncaster, just as you mentioned. (Although an extra stop at Hoddle Street, or therabouts, where the line crosses the Epping/Hurstbridge lines, does seem a good idea if this is to be an actual network...)

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org/acb/ Mon Jan 29 11:02:09 2007

This is not quite the North-South line, as it would connect North Melbourne and Caulfield. Though, if anything, this makes even less sense.

Connecting the Clifton Hill lines to the Doncaster line would be tricky, given that the former go over the freeway. Either there'd be a very long underpass somewhere, or it'd involve either moving Victoria Park station to be right above the freeway and Doncaster line station (and having lifts/escalators), or knocking the bridge down and putting the line under the freeway.

Posted by: Ben Leviathan ben_leviathan.livejournal.com Fri Feb 9 08:11:36 2007

The main thrust of the plan is to build an underground station at the Melbourne Uni campus extending the loop, with another down towards collingwood.

My own masterplan for rail transport makes much more sense. The outlying lines all link up to the adjacent line at the end and trains only run in one direction, in a permanent loop either clockwise or anti-clockwise, providing far more frequent and faster service.

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org/acb/ Fri Feb 9 14:33:22 2007

And the railways are elevated 1km above the ground to give better views of the bay.

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