THE state government has confirmed that it intends to start work on the eastern section of the Suburban Rail Loop project next year.
A commitment of $9.3 billion in taxpayer funding was announced last week towards SRL works. The funding will be used to build 26-kilometre twin rail tunnels and six underground stations between Cheltenham and Box Hill, and work on the precincts surrounding the stations.
The state government says it has already committed $2.5 billion for “planning and development of SRL and for initial and early works on SRL East.” It has awarded a contract for early works to global construction and engineering firm Laing O’Rourke.
Trains are targeted to start running on the eastern section of the line in 2035. The completed project is expected to cut the time it takes to travel from Cheltenham to Box Hill to 22 minutes.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced that the rail project would be moving forward last week. “We told the Victorian community we will get this project started – and we’re getting on with it,” he said. “The Suburban Rail Loop is not just a rail line – it delivers opportunities for Victorians to live close to work, more access to education and services and supports thousands of new jobs at a time our state needs them most.”
Laing O’Rourke Australia managing director Cathal O’Rourke said that the organisation is “delighted to partner with the Victorian Government to deliver the SRL Initial Works and Early Works. As well as clearing the way for the main works, we will also provide new opportunities for Victorians to be involved in this city-shaping project and we appreciate the trust placed in us to deliver great outcomes for the community.”
Submissions on the SRL East are being accepted at the moment as part of the Environment Effects Statement process. The public can make submissions until 11.59pm on Thursday, 16 December.
The Inquiry and Advisory Committee appointed to advise the EES process is expected to begin public hearings on 28 February next year. Kingston Council says it will make a submission, and that it has drafted a plan to “identify increased green open space opportunities, strong pedestrian and cycling links, better connections with existing public transport and climate-responsive design for the new train station precinct next to Southland and the proposed train stabling yard in Heatherton.”
Cr Jenna Davey-Burns said “community consultation is a priority for council and we’re checking back in with our community to get their feedback on our draft designs and ideas.”
“Kingston has a strong history of working in partnership with the Victorian Government to achieve positive community outcomes, and this city-transforming project is a unique opportunity to embrace world best practice on this intergenerational project,” she said.
Resident group Move The Train Yard has asked for more time to form a response to the EES. Campaigner Michelle Hornstein said “after all the waiting and promising by SRL that all our questions and concerns would be dealt with by the EES, they dump a difficult to use digital only version with tens of thousands of pages, and give us only 6 weeks to respond.” The Suburban Rail Loop Authority will hold a public webinar on 3 December, 11.00am to 11.45am, to help people navigate the digital EES.
View council’s alternate plans at yourkingstonyoursay.com.au