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MELBOURNE airport’s rail link will be designed to enable new high-speed regional train services running to Geelong and Ballarat, Premier Daniel Andrews says.
In a sign Labor is now locked into developing the long-awaited Tullamarine connection, Mr Andrews says construction could be “well under way” before the $11 billion Melbourne Metro Rail tunnel opens in 2026.
But in a speech he will deliver today, the Premier will argue its scope should be tweaked to broaden its appeal, and potential use.
“It can’t just be an expensive funnel for tourists and businesspeople between the CBD and airport,” he will tell the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“Instead, it can transform the way people live, work, and travel across Victoria.”
Building an airport link, which is also backed by the Turnbull Government that has provided $30 million for a business case, could modernise other parts of the network, according to Mr Andrews.
High-speed connections to Geelong and Ballarat could see population west of Melbourne boom.For example, Geelong and Ballarat high-speed connections would be enabled by “unlocking” better line capacity in the west and north of Victoria.
“It can create the extra capacity we need in the congested Melbourne to Sunshine corridor — which means we can untangle the regional and metropolitan network on the Geelong and Ballarat lines.”
According to the Premier, this would see the booming population west of Melbourne get electrified services and faster trains.
The state’s major transport co-ordinator general, Corey Hannett, will be asked to plan the vision.
“Imagine travelling from Geelong to Melbourne in under 40 minutes. It would change the way people work and live. And it would change the face of our state forever,” Mr Andrews will say.
The Premier is expected to reveal further details of the link next year, and said this was an opportunity to get out of “election-cycle infrastructure delivery” through long-term planning.
Meanwhile, federal Transport Minister Darren Chester has revealed meetings have begun for the Commonwealth’s business case.
Mr Chester said the federal government would “work with the local councils, the industry, the Victorian government as much as we possibly can to make sure we deliver it as soon as we possibly can”.
“Our expectation is we need to work with the Victorian government, that they need to get on board and be fair dinkum about this process — and we think we can get this done in 12 months,” he said.
Mr Chester said the governments could then “get on with the job of working out how we fund it”.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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