Population ponzi overruns Melbourne’s trains


By Leith van Onselen

With record population growth currently flooding Melbourne:

And the city’s population expected to swell to by 70%-plus to 8 million mid-century (or ten million at the current rate):

ScreenHunter_15632 Oct. 23 12.16

Melbourne’s train system is being crush-loaded, with three of Melbourne’s metro train lines already breaching capacity at peak hour and two more expected to follow suit within the next two years. From The Age:


The crowd crushes and heavy disruption experienced during the morning peak on the Sunbury, Craigieburn and Upfield lines will soon become the norm on the Cranbourne, Pakenham and Werribee lines.

The city’s rail operator… says the problem is most urgent on the “northern group” of lines that service Melbourne’s booming north-west.

The Sunbury, Craigieburn and Upfield lines share one of the City Loop’s four tunnels and are all experiencing rapid patronage growth and worsening overcrowding.

The government’s solution to the issue is the Metro Tunnel, which is due to open in 2026, but Metro has said there is “an urgent need” to find an answer now…

The warning is contained in Metro’s 2016 Strategic Operational Plan, which was leaked to Fairfax Media… [It] warned the government that Melbourne’s rail network needs significant taxpayer investment to fix a host of problems, such as peak-hour congestion in the City Loop, rail bottlenecks, and ageing trains and signals…

Micro-data released earlier in the year by the ABS revealed that the lion’s share of Melbourne’s manic population growth has occurred in the Northern and Western Suburbs:


However, this data preceded the results of the 2016 Census, which significantly revised-up Victoria’s (Melbourne’s) population growth. So the growth experienced in these areas was likely even worse.

Regardless, the shenanigans on Melbourne’s trains is only one symptom of the Australia’s immigration-fueled population ponzi. To this you can add congested roads, less affordable (and smaller) homes, schools bursting at the seams, and overall reduced resident amenity.

Of course, anyone with half a brain knows what is primarily driving the destruction in Melbourne’s livability: the federal government’s mass immigration program.


According to the Productivity Commission’s recent Migrant Intake into Australia report, Australia’s population is projected to grow to around 41 million mid-century under current mass immigration settings. This is roughly 14 million more people than would arrive into Australia under zero net overseas migration:

Clearly, the best way to avert Melbourne’s looming infrastructure disaster, as well as maintain resident living standards, is for the the State Government to tap its federal counterpart on the shoulder and demand they slash Australia’s immigration program.


Sadly, the Turnbull Government in May announced that it would maintain Australia’s permanent migrant intake at a record 205,000 people a year in 2017-18 without a whiff of opposition from Labor or the fake Greens:

Hence Melbourne’s living standards are destined to be crush-loaded for the foreseeable future.


And for what?

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About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.