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The Victorian government has committed $2.2 billion to build the first section of its $50 billion Suburban Rail Loop – a 90-kilometre rail line running through Melbourne's middle suburbs.
Premier Daniel Andrews shared a video on his social media pages on Monday morning promoting the cash splash, which will be spent on delivering six new stations in the south-east – Cheltenham, Clayton, Monash, Glen Waverley and Burwood.
The project, announced before the 2018 election, will connect every major rail line from the Frankston line to the Werribee line and is set to create 800 new jobs.
The orbital line – which will be largely underground – will include up to 12 new stations, including Cheltenham in the south-east to Doncaster in the north-east, Fawkner in the north and Sunshine in the west, via Melbourne Airport.
Pre-construction work on stage one from Box Hill to Cheltenham has begun. Construction is set to begin in 2022.
The state has stumped up $300 million for the project's business case, which is not yet complete.
The project has been broadly welcomed by public transport advocates, who say it is a welcome boost to the city's network, even if it is expected to take 30 years to build.
But there are calls for light rail to be used instead of trains, while some have called for a different rail link – the Melbourne Metro 2 – to be prioritised, which connects Clifton Hill Station with Newport via the CBD and Fishermans Bend.
Financial ratings agency Moody's warned in July that the Suburban Rail Loop would put a serious strain on the state’s finances in the coming decades.
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