After months of speculation about the fate of the Regional Rail Link, Transport Minister Terry Mulder yesterday confirmed that it would go ahead.
But he said the line would take two years longer to build than promised by the previous government after state Treasury officials found a ''financial black hole'' in costings totalling hundreds of millions of dollars.
When first announced by then premier John Brumby in 2008, the line was to be completed by 2014 at a cost of $4.3 billion. It emerged yesterday that this figure included an $800 million allowance for unforeseen contingencies.
Now, Mr Mulder says, the final bill will be closer to $5 billion and construction will take longer to help find money for it.
The link will involve a 47-kilometre extension to Melbourne's railways, running from Southern Cross Station to near Werribee with new stations at Tarneit and Wyndham Vale. The project will allow V/Line and Metro services to run on separate tracks, reducing delays to services currently caused by the sharing of tracks through Melbourne's inner west.
Do freeways get built faster than railways - or does it just seam that way? What do you think?
FYI East Link - comprising about 39km of freeway-standard road - started construction in early 2005 and the road opened to traffic on Sunday 29 June 2008, five months ahead of the scheduled opening date