The recent productivity commission report into public infrastructure left the most important policy question unasked, namely: if there were better ways for planning and building transport infrastructure, would anyone actually be interested?
Australians have become addicted to the political theatre that surrounds transport and planning. By contrast, successful jurisdictions overseas have placed infrastructure into a condition of mundane, plodding progress.
To do this, they’ve taken infrastructure planning and financing out of the hands of politicians by-and-large, and have never looked back.
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The recent move by Denis Napthine in Victoria to “re-shape” the long-planned and well supported central city metro corridor with the stroke of his own inexpert pen would be simply unthinkable in the US.
So would Victorian opposition leader Daniel Andrew’s less-than-half-baked move to spend billions on road-rail grade separations without so much as a preliminary study.
The Germans would know that projects such as Melbourne’s metro tunnel need to be planned properly – through the classic “comparison of alternatives” for routes, tunnel alignments, and station locations.
Note that there was very little consideration of alternatives when the metro tunnel was first mooted in the 2007? Eddington report.
Since the original metro was first developed on the back of an envelope it was soon realised that there were many engineering challenges with the route that seemed to have been adopted as a fait accompli. Significantly more work has since been undertaken in relation to Melbourne's rail capacity needs as shown by the PTV rail network plan and the new route for the Melbourne Metro builds on this additional analysis. To suggest that the change has been made at the stroke of an inexpert pan is quite ridiculous, it is just that all the analysis has not yet been made public.