The unveilling of Melbourne Metro should be followed immediately by a city loop reconfiguration, according to a major infrastructure advisory body.
Infrastructure Victoria released a draft 30-year strategy on Wednesday in which it said Melbourne’s train network is nearing capacity and will not support many more services entering the city loop.
The report said even with completion of the Melbourne Metro tunnel project by 2025 and a proposed Melbourne Metro Two, the Craigieburn and Upfield lines would soon reach capacity.
This, it said, was due to increasing demand driven by the expansion of the northern growth corridor beyond Craigieburn to Donnybrook, Beveridge and Wallan.
In response, Infrastructure Victoria recommended redesigning two of the four city loop tunnels to allow more trains to pass through the city and continue.
A redesigned city loop would create a pair of underground cross-city tracks from Richmond to North Melbourne.
But the project would need to be constructed immediately after the Melbourne Metro tunnel is opened, Infrastructure Victoria said.
“The window of opportunity to deliver the project will close as demand continues to increase,” it said.
“And the network may only temporarily have enough spare capacity to change train service patterns during construction to minimise passenger impacts.”
Infrastructure Victoria recommended separating the Craigieburn and Upfield lines as they ran through the city before potentially running onto the Frankston or Glen Waverley lines.
This, it said, would mean they did not have to share the same city loop track, allowing for increased capacity and reliability.
Infrastructure Victoria chief Michel Masson also welcomed the state government’s announcement earlier this month that it would introduce cheaper off-peak fares for public transport users from February as the COVID-19 recovery takes off.
But he recommended these off-peak fares become a permanent fixture in Melbourne, as well as offering cheaper fares for buses and trams at all time.
Victorian transport infrastructure minister Jacinta Allan has been approached for comment.
Among its 95 recommendations to the Victorian government, the draft strategy also suggested changes to improve the energy performance of housing.
This included requiring all new homes to achieve a minimum 7.0 in the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme.
It also included a statewide mandatory energy rating scheme, designed to give potential buyers or renters the chance to choose a lower cost, more efficient new home.