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While the state government has rubbished claims it is considering a "budget" alternative to major regional rail infrastructure, advocates are pushing for a tunnel as an indispensable part of any future airport rail link to serve Ballarat and Geelong.
A state government spokesperson said Saturday's report, which said the government was looking at a proposal to use existing lines between Southern Cross and Sunshine for the airport link, was "incorrect".
"The media reports on the weekend are incorrect," they said.
A map of proposed new rail projects. Source: state government
"The Andrews Labor Government has always backed a Sunshine alignment because of the benefits it delivers for regional Victorians - this decision was later backed by the Commonwealth."
However the statement stopped short of committing to the option preferred by Ballarat transport advocates.
"It is standard practice for all business cases to consider options," it read.
Representatives from communities across western Victoria have been pushing for a tunnel linking Sunshine or western Footscray to Southern Cross to unlock faster trains and direct services between Melbourne and Geelong, Ballarat, and Bendigo.
The airport rail link project could also be part of this, separating the trains from metropolitan services as the population grows.
In May, a group of councils and organisations led by the City of Greater Geelong released the Stronger Together report, calling for electrified fast rail to regional centres.
This article first appeared on www.thecourier.com.au
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