Melbourne is falling behind Sydney with the Victorian capital creaking under the weight of ageing transport infrastructure which will have to cope with rapid population growth for years to come.
That’s the view of federal Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge who said today that of all the major cities, Melbourne was his “main concern” when it came to new roads and rail programs.
The warning comes as population growth in Melbourne outstrips every other major Australian city with hundreds of thousands of new people arriving annually. Many of those new residents are going to school and work on already strained existing trains, trams and roads.
Unlike Sydney, where commuters are now riding the first phase of the $20 billion driverless Sydney Metro service, Melburnians will have to wait another six years for the commute busting $11 billion Melbourne Metro to take its first passengers.
Mr Tudge made the comments at this year’s Australian Financial Review National Infrastructure Summit held in Melbourne.
He also had a dig at the state Labor government for scrapping a major new motorway five years ago that would right now be nearing completion.
Mr Tudge spruiked the federal government’s 10-year $100 billion infrastructure plan that has earmarked investment in mega projects — such as faster rail between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and their satellite cities — as well as more modest plans including $500 million to build and improve commuter car parks.
“In Sydney, the city will be transformed within two or three years as some of the massive projects from the huge NSW infrastructure program will be completed, while others are just getting started,” he said.
These include the multi-billion dollar North and West Connex motorway projects, several phases of which are due to open this year, as well as the city’s light rail which — while delayed — is finally nearing completion.
But the same could not be said of Melbourne, Mr Tudge said.
“Of the big cities, my main concern over the medium term is Melbourne,” he said.
News.com.au has contacted Victorian infrastructure minister Jacinta Allen for comment.