The Suburban Rail Loop is a proposed 90km-long orbital railway network, which will connect all lines across the suburban areas in Melbourne to all priority growth precincts in the region.

It is expected to be the busiest standalone line in Melbourne, upon becoming operational.

The project is being developed by the Suburban Rail Loop Authority (SLRA), an authority established under the Department of Transport in September 2019. SLRA is responsible for the planning and development of the project.

The Government of Victoria opened the registration of interest (ROI) process for the project in June 2019.

Construction will be completed in several stages and is scheduled to be completed by 2050. The first stage works are expected to begin in 2022 and are scheduled to be completed in 2032.

Suburban Rail Loop project details

The Suburban Rail Loop project will circle Melbourne city and connect major railway lines from the Frankston line to the Werribee line via the Melbourne airport.

A twin-tunnel railway loop will connect multiple precincts including Cheltenham, Clayton, Monash, Glen Waverley, Burwood, Box Hill, Doncaster, Heidelberg, Bundoora, Reservoir, Fawkner, Broadmeadows, Melbourne Airport, Sunshine and Werribee.

The project will involve the development of three main transport hubs at Clayton, Broadmeadows and Sunshine, connecting travellers from the Victoria region to the suburban rail loop.

"The new line will also connect three major universities, Monash, La Trobe and Deakin."

Geotechnical investigation works between Box Hill and Cheltenham began with the drilling of boreholes at a depth between 30m and 60m in July 2019.

Suburban Rail Loop construction stages

The south-east section, which will be the first stage of the project, will run underground between Cheltenham and Box Hill and will include new rail tunnels. It will involve the construction of six new underground stations, four underground interchanges, and two proposed stations at the Monash Clayton and Deakin Burwood precincts.

The north-east section of the project will run from Box Hill to Melbourne airport via Hurstbridge, Mernda, Upfield, and Craigieburn lines.

The north-west section of the railway loop will include the Melbourne Airport Rail Link. Construction on the section is scheduled to be started in 2022. The south-west section will link Sunshine to the Werribee line through the new Sunshine super-hub.

Ridership and fleet details

210,000 people daily are expected to travel on the Suburban Rail Loop in 2031 and approximately 400,000 in 2051.

Estimated future travel times include 25 minutes between Clayton and Bundoora, 25 minutes between Box Hill, and the airport, 35 minutes between Broadmeadows and Monash, 45 minutes between Frankston and the airport, and 45 minutes between Cheltenham and the airport.

The Suburban Rail Loop will be served by a dedicated fleet of high-tech trains. Each trainset will carry up to five carriages to complement shorter platforms, minimising the walking distance at the stations. The fleet will also ensure easy hop on and hop off travel for passengers.

Financing

The Suburban Rail Loop project is expected to cost A$50bn ($34bn). The project has been allocated A$300m ($205m) in the 2019-20 Victorian budget for the full business case, planning and pre-construction work.

Suburban Rail Loop project benefits

Parties involved in the project aim to ease congestion on the existing railway lines, as well as connect a greater number of people to the suburbs. The new rail line is also expected to help in taking 200,000 cars off the road with the goal of reducing pollution.

The project is expected to create approximately 20,000 jobs during the construction phase.

Contractors involved

KPMG is the financial advisor for the Suburban Rail Loop project, while Aurecon, Jacobs and Mott MacDonald are the technical advisors.