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Plans for the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel have been dusted off and relaunched after years of inaction on what could be the state's largest public transport project.
Immediate funding of $40 million has been made available by the Andrews government to begin planning the twin rail tunnel through Melbourne's CBD with five new stations.
But the project ultimately remains dependent on billions of dollars in federal funding, with Premier Daniel Andrews conceding he was no closer to securing any Canberra cash for Melbourne Metro from Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who rejects a federal role for funding urban rail.
Nevertheless, a tentative opening date of 2026 was given for the project, with construction expected to begin in 2018.
Mr Andrews said the Melbourne Metro project would give Melbourne a public transport network equal to those in cities such as New York, London, Paris and Hong Kong.
He promised the government would release the business case for Melbourne Metro in full.
"The business case will be made public, we are absolutely determined to make sure there is as much transparency," Mr Andrews said.
He reiterated the government's position that the tunnel, estimated to cost between $9 billion and $11 billion, would be paid for by a mix of one third state funds, one third from Canberra and a third from the private sector.
The $40 million funding was brought forward from $300 million Labor has already committed to the project in its first budget, and will be used to establish the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority.
A map of Melbourne Metro released on Monday shows the rail tunnel would have five stations, as originally conceived, and run along the length of Swanston Street.
The anticipated disruption of about two years to Swanston Street was one of the key reasons former premier Denis Napthine gave for scrapping the Melbourne Metro project during the last term of government.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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