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The state and federal governments are being offered an extra $2 billion in an 11th-hour bid for a tunnel from the CBD to Sunshine in Melbourne’s airport rail link.
A powerful consortium including Melbourne Airport and Metro Trains has now put $7 billion on the table to convince both governments to back its vision to deliver 20-minute trips to Tullamarine.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Prime Minister Scott Morrison are close to finalising a route that would use existing above-ground tracks to Sunshine and force travellers to change trains there.
But the Herald Sun can reveal the consortium has written to both leaders and upped its $5 billion offer in a last-ditch effort to partner on the project.
AirRail Melbourne’s suggested aerial route.
The AirRail Melbourne consortium, bankrolled by super fund giant IFM Investors, has also offered to return the 6km tunnel to the state’s hands sooner than its proposed 40-year concession and to share any “super-profits”.
Mr Andrews and Mr Morrison have committed $5 billion to the project, tipped to cost $8-13 billion. The consortium said its extra investment could ensure airport rail “does not fall victim to short-term financial headwinds” linked to this summer’s bushfires.
“Our solution is the only plan on the table that delivers a fast, reliable and dedicated airport mass-transit service that debottlenecks transport links in Melbourne’s west, improves regional access to Melbourne and paves the way for high-speed rail to Geelong,” it said.
Artist impression of AirRail Melbourne’s proposed custom airport train.
The Herald Sun believes all options being considered allow for fast rail to Geelong and Ballarat, as well as extra Metro services through the western suburbs.
State government figures have concerns that a privately owned tunnel will allow the consortium to charge access fees for other rail services.
The consortium said there “may be some misunderstanding” of its proposal, maintaining the government would have control of services, pricing and timetabling for regional and Metro services using the tunnel.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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