From your linked article:What a turkey, in the 90s victoria's economy was about $200 billion GSP versus today (or just pre-COVID19) in the $450 billion mark. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Australian_states_and_territories_by_gross_state_product#Historical_gross_state_product_(since_1989%E2%80%9390)The suburban rail loop project will never be built because it's simply too expensive and the VIC government will run out of credit and tax revenues particularly from stamp duty will fall. Here's an expert from Moody's 12 months ago (pre COVID19 twenty billion dollar spending spree):
"Ermergehd debt levels are too high" is a useless argument without comparing it to the size of the economy - or even the population count.
Moody's singled out the Andrews government's giant suburban rail loop as a project that will challenge its treasury in the coming decades.
“Initial estimates for this project, at around $50 billion over a 30-year construction period, highlight the challenge the state will face in retaining current fiscal objectives over time, while working with the Commonwealth and other bodies to deliver such projects,” the Moody's report noted.
The increasing levels of debt, estimated at an average of $45 billion a year for the next four years, should be of concern to state treasurers, Moody's warns.
Debt isn't free money, it has to be paid back by subsequent generations of Victorians or Australians. Our debtors have to believe that we're good for it for us to keep borrowing money at low rates.
But [John] Manning [VP of Moody's] said Victoria’s all-important AAA credit rating, which allows it to borrow money on good terms, remains safe and the debt the state was taking on was manageable.
Emphasis is mine. The article does go on to state that incomes need to increase to maintain this rating as well, which will certainly take a hit after the stamp duty losses and the pandemic. But that does not mean it is the end of the Victorian economy.
While I think the expected $50 billion is way too much to be expected of the state to pay alone, each individual part of the SRL is expected to cost in the range of $10-20 billion using napkin maths. This puts the entire project more in line with something like the Sydney Metro projects. Instead of 3 or 4 separate projects that will eventually join together in the case of Sydney Metro, Melbourne will have 1 big project split into pieces that serves much the same purpose.
For context, Sydney Metro Northwest cost ~$8.3 billion and Metro City and Southwest is expected to cost as much as $16.8 billion. Metro West is budgeted at $6.4 billion and Metro Greater West is budgeted at $11 billion. Overall, Sydney Metro will be at a cost of $42.5 billion for about 113km of track. SRL doesn't sound terribly out of place any more.
With how much stuff the state is trying to pay for, I'm surprised that there hasn't been as much talk about getting federal funds. The feds are splashing cash in Sydney on the Metro, but are hesitant to fund a similar project here. Sydney Metro Greater West, ie the new airport metro, is basically the same thing as MARL but without even an existing airport to connect to.
EDIT: Courtesy of @simstrain, Metro West will actually cost $12.5 billion. This takes the total cost to $48.6 billion.