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On Thursday Premier Daniel Andrews announced construction of an airport rail link would be underway before the completion of the Melbourne Metro project in 2026. The link is set to run through Sunshine Station, providing direct access for Ballarat and Geelong V/Line services.
While he said electrified services to Melton and Wyndham were also priorities, these are likely to come after the completion of the airport link, which could still be more than a decade off.
Visiting Ballarat to launch an additional night coach service from Southern Cross, Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said planning for the next suite of major public transport investments needed to begin now.
“As we plan for the construction of a Melbourne Airport rail link we want to make sure regional Victoria and it’s passenger needs are part of that planning process,” Ms Allan.
The government is proposing to completely separate the Ballarat and Geelong V/Line networks from Metro lines in conjunction with the airport link works.
An airport rail link proposed by the Rail Futures Institute
While opposition public transport spokesman David Davis dismissed the Premier’s announcement as “a series of artist impressions on Facebook”, Committee for Ballarat chairman Janet Dore said she hoped the projects could gather bi-partisan support ahead of the November 2018 state election.
“Unfortunately we’re paying the price for the growth of western Melbourne and the success of Melbourne,” Ms Dore said. “I would very much hope this is a bi-partisan issue because the regional rail network needs urgent improvement and we can’t afford this clogging up and congestion any longer.”
The announcement comes after the federal government pledged $30 million from the 2017/18 budget to develop a business case for the long overdue airport link.
Federal Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher said both the state and federal governments would continue to look into a number of potential alignments for the airport rail link, including the Sunshine option.
“Both governments will continue to work together to finalise a preferred alignment for a Melbourne Airport Rail Link as part of the business case.”
This article first appeared on www.thecourier.com.au
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