If one reads all the available DOT papers and submissions the proposal to through route Sunbury/Melton to long distance sparks terminating at Dandenong, Pakenham or Cranbourne gives the best outcome:
1. Effectively frees up an existing track pair from Footscray/South Kensington area right through to Caulfield for expansion of services on other lines within the Caulfield Group .
2. Along with RRL gives a huge increase in train paths on existing Northern Group lines.
3. Provides a huge new range of connections/interchange opportunities between rail at Footscray, Melbourne Central, Flinders Street. And between train and tram at Footscray, Melbourne Central, Flinders Street and The Domain .
4. Provides an express underground rail service down the key spine of Swanston St/St Kilda Road easing greatly current chronic overcrowding situations on trams in both Swanston St and especially St Kilda Road.
As time inches on and the new Train Franchisee now predicts patronage doubling within 10 years the questions that need to be asked now are :
* What innovative financing options are there to get Stage 1 under construction earlier, and for Stage 2 to be bought forward so the whole project is completed within say 7 - 8 years ?
* If at all possible Stage 1 should be extended to terminate at Commercial Road or better still underground at South Yarra station .
* What innovative financing options are there to get a four track solution from either Caulfield/Oakleigh to at least Westall if not Dandenong ? constructed concurrently with Stage 2 of the Metro tunnel ?
(Feeding the new tunnel into an existing corridor reaching capacity now would be senseless, and the much vaunted "plan" is silent on what is planned for the Dandenong Corridor above ground.)
* Given the constraints at Caulfield and between Caulfield and Oakleigh, Stage 2 of the tunnel realistically should probably be looking to surface around Oakleigh .
The new franchisee has considerable expertise in leveraging rail improvements through property developments (both residential and commercial) on rail easements and over stations and Government should be using and teaming with the new Operator to get best value both for taxpayers and travellers. The new guy is here for 7 if not 15 years so here is a brilliant opportunity for Melbourne to get the benefit of their Hong Kong experience. (NB: Both Government and Victrack and the old VR have all been pretty hopeless in the area of property development that also benefits the rail traveller.)
Also we need outside the square financing options to build these big ticket transport infrastructure items like : congestion taxes on CBD entry by cars and trucks, a CBD metro rate levy, special Metro tunnel levies on fares, shadow tolls, property development over rail lines and stations, charging for car parking at stations, public / private partnerships etc etc .
Existing funding sources will be totally inadequate to fund the required rail (or for that matter limited road ) improvements. We either find innovative financing solutions, and let Property Development pay in part, or Melbourne will slowly strangle itself passenger movement wise .
Hopefully now Governments realize the issue is moving people and goods, not cars and trucks ; and thus the senseless era of endless freeway construction will be replaced by a massive investment in fixed rail and tram/bus, supplemented by a lesser program of road improvements aimed at getting goods to and from ports, freight terminals etc .