Ground has broken on one of the most important rail projects in Melbourne’s history.

Victorian Premier Danial Andrews and Minister for Suburban Rail Loop visited the site of what will be a new station in the Melbourne south-eastern suburb of Clayton to mark the commencement of initial and early work on the first stage of the Suburban Rail Loop project.

Set to revolutionise Melbourne’s transport network and be built over thirty years, the 90 kilometre loop will link the Frankston line at Cheltenham in Melbourne’s south to Werribee in the south-west and will link all of the city’s major rail lines with Melbourne Airport.

Once complete, the link will enable commuters to travel between the south, east, north and west without needing to first go in to the city centre.

Three transport super hubs at Clayton, Broadmeadows and Sunshine will connect regional services.

This means passengers from outside Melbourne will not need to travel through the CBD to access employment, world-class hospitals and universities in the suburbs.

It will open in three stages – the first of which will link Cheltenham in the south to Box Hill in the east via 2k6m of twin tunnels.

This will include new station precincts at Cheltenham, Clayton, Monash, Glen Waverley, Burwood and Box Hill which will allow for the unlocking of commercial and employment hubs.

Once complete in 2035, travel times from Cheltenham to Box Hill will be slashed to just 22 minutes.

Initial works commenced on Thursday involve the laying of a sewer pipe at the site of the new Clayton station.

The new station will be a transport superhub and will connect those travelling on the Dandenong, Pakenham and Cranbourne lines as well as the regional Bairnsdale line to the new link.

The first phase of works will also include road modifications, service relocation and preparation for three sites where the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will be launched.

Up to 10 TBMS are expected to carve the 26 kilometres of twin tunnels, linking the six new underground stations.

All up, the first stage will generate up to 8,000 jobs during construction.

The Clayton site has been established by Indigenous construction firm Wamarra – the first sub-contractor employed on this city-shaping project.

Over more than two million hours, workers have completed thousands of lab tests and surveys, and geotechnical investigations at more than 840 sites.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews welcomed the project’s commencement.

“Work has now started on the Suburban Rail Loop – an iconic project Victorians voted for, and one that will transform the way we move around the state,” Andrews said.

“SRL will create thousands of jobs and connect our suburbs – making it easier, faster and more convenient for all Victorians to access our fastest growing employment, health, education and retail centres.”