It’s often said that there hasn’t been a suburban rail line built in Melbourne since the Glen Waverley line opened in 1930. To be precise, that year it was extended from Darling to Glen Waverley.
Others built or extended since then have either been electrification along existing lines, or re-openings of lines along old alignments: Werribee, Sunbury, Craigieburn, Cranbourne.
The City Loop was all-new, but is not suburban and didn’t serve any areas that had no existing public transport routes. South Morang kinda re-opened an old line, but was basically a completely new alignment.
(Update: it’s been rightly pointed out to me that Westona station is on a section of line first opened in 1985.)
Regional Rail Link changes that. Despite the name, and despite being served by diesel trains, it will serve new suburban areas, with stations at Tarneit and Wyndham Vale, and is being built almost entirely in suburban Melbourne (both in fresh “green fields” and existing “brown fields” areas).
The RRL social media team has been busy, and they’ve posted a video flyover of the whole project.
When seen like this, it puts the size of the project into perspective, and at 47 kilometres long, it’s longer than any existing suburban line except the Pakenham line (though with far fewer stations).
At a full cost of around $4.8 billion (around $100 million per kilometre), it’s a lot of money… but it looks like a bargain against the proposed East West road tunnel stage 1, at $6-8 billion for just 6 kilometres (around $1 billion per kilometre). Of course, that’s mostly tunnel, which is more expensive — though even against the proposed rail tunnel the road expensive in terms of construction cost and particularly cost per person moved.