By Natasha Manawadu
The Melbourne Metro 2 (MM2) is a city-shaping project which will connect the city's north-east to the south-west quicker and more seamlessly than before. It was first envisioned in Public Transport Victoria's 2012 Network Development Plan, a 40-year vision to provide Melbourne's growing population with metro-style services, enabling commuters to turn up and hop on a train.1
You might be asking yourself, what is the difference between MM1 and MM2? MM2 will be another underground tunnel directly connecting the Clifton Hill group lines to the Werribee line via the CBD and Fishermans Bend, with options for additional train stations in the inner north. Whilst there are obvious benefits for suburbs which will be directly serviced by MM2, particularly Fishermans Bend ‒ which currently has no viable public transport options ‒ Melbourne's Eastern suburbs will also benefit from MM2.2
MM2 will have a whole-of-network impact, increasing Melbourne's rail capacity across the board. As Melbourne strives towards metro-style train services, full sectorisation of the rail network is imperative to enhance reliability and headways. MM2 will decouple the Mernda and Hurstbridge lines, alleviating pressure at Clifton Hill interchange, allowing for an increase in frequency on each line.
Moreover, this decoupling would prevent cascading impacts from occurring across the Mernda and Hurstbridge line, increasing the reliability on both. Additionally, MM2 will reduce pressure on the City Loop, increasing the capacity of lines which use the City Loop, such as the Glen Waverley, Alamein, Lilydale and Belgrave lines which service Melbourne's East.3
Currently, using public transport to cross from the east to west is complicated, to say the least. For example, getting from Preston to Fishermans Bend requires a train, tram and perhaps even an Uber. With MM2, this trip would be an easy direct route, allowing for other eastern lines to quickly transfer and hop on at an interchange within the city. Why would someone be travelling from Preston to Fishermans Bend or vice versa? As Fishermans Bend is a major urban renewal area ‒ close to the CBD and other job-dense areas ‒ Fishermans Bend and other inner-city areas are poised to be places of opportunity and amenity for its residents and the wider Melbourne population.
Effective job density, a metric calculated and researched by SGS Economics & Planning, quantifies employment concentrations using density and accessibility of all jobs in a region. Using SGS's spatial visualisation of effective job density, it is clear that MM2 will connect the less job-dense north-eastern regions to Melbourne's opportunity-rich inner core.4
While Melbourne's east will likely not experience the rapid population growth rates occurring in other areas of Melbourne, it is important to ensure that public transport infrastructure keeps pace with Melbourne's growth, providing a commuter experience which can compete with car travel. Significantly, by increasing the frequency, convenience and amenity of public transport in the north-east, MM2 is poised to reduce traffic to the CBD and to the west by providing a cheaper, faster alternative to stand-still peak hour traffic on the Westgate freeway and Eastern freeway.4
Another exciting possibility which MM2 could facilitate is Doncaster rail. The decoupling of the Mernda and Hurrtbridge lines would allow the Doncaster rail line to be constructed via the Clifton Hill interchange, servicing Manningham, Melbourne's only municipality without a train or tram line.5 Public Transport Victoria's Network Development Plan highlighted this possibility in 2012, and listed MM2 as a precursor project to Doncaster Rail.
While Doncaster rail might be some years away, without the decoupling of the Mernda and Hurstbridge lines, the chances of Doncaster rail eventuating will become ever slimmer, particularly if the north-east link goes ahead.6
Thus, MM2 is positioned to not only benefit suburbs it directly services, but will have wider ranging positive impacts for Melbourne's east, particularly if Doncaster rail eventuates. Given the various health, community and economic benefits that public transport has been shown to deliver, why not #getonboard the MM2?
1 Public Transport Victoria (PTV). (2012). 2012 Network Development Plan ‒ Metropolitan Rail. https://tinyurl.com/ y8qbryk3
2 Bowen, D. (2018). What is Metro 2?. February 12. https://tinyurl.com/y8nrn9u8
3 Madden, J. (n.d.). Melbourne Metro 2: A major city shaping project. ARUP. https://tinyurl.com/y8r5pweh
4 Bulman, J., Lam, M., & Scholz, E. (2019). The Melbourne Metro 2: A Proposal for Better Public Transit. [Unpublished Report]. Friends of the Earth Melbourne & Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
5 Manningham Council. (2019). Doncaster Railway Station a welcome connection. www.manningham.vic.gov.au/doncaster-railway-station-a-welcome-connection
6 Lucas, C. & Jacks, T. (2018). Toll road to kill off future Doncaster rail: public transport group. The Age. April 26. https://tinyurl.com/y7tmj7by
Published in Chain Reaction #139, national magazine of Friends of the Earth Australia, May 2021. www.foe.org.au/chain-reaction