End of the line for Labor on Melbourne City Loop closure

The Andrews Labor Government can put an end to uncertainty on when the Melbourne City Loop will close by confirming the cost and timeline of safety upgrades in next week’s State Budget.

The Public Transport Minister has given an ‘iron-clad’ guarantee that fire and safety upgrades in the City Loop – which have been needed for a decade – will finally be completed the end of the year, but can’t confirm when or how long the entire City Loop will be shutdown for the work to go ahead.

Shadow Minister for Public Transport Steph Ryan said there was no reason for further delays to delivering a project that was needed for commuter safety.

“Labor can’t keep kicking the can down the road on critical upgrades that are needed to keep train travellers safe,” Ms Ryan said.

“But 10 years after an Ombudsman report warned these works were needed and eight years after money was put on the table by the former Liberals and Nationals government, we are still waiting for Labor to get on with the job.

“Worse still is the disruption that will now come to commuters when the entire City Loop is shut down.

“The past two years of low patronage with the COVID pandemic’s work-from-home rules was the perfect time to have carried out these works with minimal disruption to Victorian’s lives.

“Labor can’t manage major projects and now the network will be thrown into chaos at a time when we should be supporting the CBD precinct to recover and rebuild.”

In 2014, the former Liberals and Nationals government allocated $43 million for safety upgrades.

A scathing report from the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) in September 2021 found there was still no finish date for the project and that the budget under Labor had blown out to $339 million – nine times the original cost.

Last year’s State Budget failed to put a dollar figure on these essential fire and safety upgrades.

Ms Ryan said if the Minister was to keep his ‘iron-clad’ guarantee, the City Loop must feature in this year’s State Budget.

“Waste and mismanagement of major projects by the Andrews Labor Government has left a $24 billion hole in the Budget,” Ms Ryan said

“We’ve been told safety upgrades will be completed by the end of this year – almost a decade after the work was first funded.

“Victorians deserve transparency and an end to the waste of a Labor Government that’s blocking Victoria’s path to recover and rebuild.”

Steph Ryan MP

Shadow Minister for Public Transport