A proposal by Vodafone and Nokia Networks to upgrade communication infrastructure for the Melbourne metropolitan train network has progressed to the third stage under the Victoria Government’s Market-led Proposals Guideline.
The proposal includes installation of a new long-term evolution (LTE) 4G network on VicTrack assets to provide an option for the state to transition to a new communication system for Metro Trains, Public Transport Victoria (PTV) and VicTrack.
If the proposal is approved, the upgraded network will provide the core components for a future 4G digital train radio system (DTRS), and has the potential to enable other rail network projects to be deployed onto a 4G network.
It would also improve Vodafone’s mobile phone coverage across metropolitan Melbourne’s train lines.
Acceptance of the proposal will be subject to the Victorian taxpayer getting value for money and if agreed, the state government could potentially use the upgraded network to deliver other telecommunications projects.
The assessment process means the proposal must clearly show benefits to the community, align with Victoria’s priorities, and offer value-for-money for Victorian taxpayers.
Victoria Treasurer Tim Pallas said: "We are committed to supporting innovative projects that provide real value for Victorians.
"The evidence is that many transport networks around the world are being upgraded to the latest standard that provides significant improvements in capacity and boosted signals.
"While upgrading the communication network on the metropolitan train network shows great potential, we will ensure that this proposal offers value-for-money to Victorians before we fully commit."
Under the Market Led Proposals Guideline, all proposals that progress to stage three of the process are publically disclosed.
Victoria Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan said: "The Andrews Labor government is building a bigger, smarter public transport system for Victoria, with high-capacity signalling, new trains and trams, and services so frequent you just turn up and go.
"This proposal offers another opportunity to improve services, and we will assess it carefully to ensure it delivers for taxpayers, passengers, and every Victorian."
In 2013, PTV had released the A$30bn ($31.4bn) Network Development Plan – Metropolitan Rail to develop Melbourne’s suburban rail network.
The plan outlines infrastructure development over the next two decades to cope with demand as passenger numbers are expected to double by 2031.
The existing network will be expanded to provide the capacity to transport an additional 50,000 people during peak times within ten years and an extra 130,000 people within 20 years.