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Scott Morrison has backed the "quick link" airport rail tunnel through Sunshine over the cheaper alternative of existing tracks being considered by the Andrews government.
Reports last week that the Andrews Government was considering a cheaper surface option were met with strong opposition from regional leaders who argue the congestion at Southern Cross will make a sub-hour Ballarat rail journey impossible.
The State Government insists no decisions have been made on the project.
The federal government has offered $5 billion to build an airport rail link that would see trains travel from Southern Cross to the airport, via Sunshine.
During a visit to Melbourne, Mr Morrison confirmed that his government was pushing for a "quick link" to the airport that would include a rail tunnel to Sunshine from Southern Cross.
Rail experts say that a tunnel is crucial to delivering 15-minute city-to-airport services running every 10 minutes, making the train competitive with SkyBus, taxis and ride-share operators
This level of service would not be achieved without a tunnel, they say, and warn that fast rail to Geelong is not workable without a separate underground airport link, because the alternative plan would see airport trains "jammed in" with Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo services on the same lines.
The federal government committed $2 billion to Geelong's fast rail before the May election.
The airport rail line was a key election promise of the state and federal governments, who have pledged a combined $10 billion towards the project, which is meant to be completed in 2027.
"What we've talked about, and we've talked about together is ensuring that we have a quick link out to Tulla," Mr Morrison said.
"And that link to Sunshine is also very important in terms of how it connects to the Geelong [fast rail] project as well".
When asked if he would support dedicated tracks to the western suburb, Mr Morrison said: "That's been what we've been bringing to the table".
The Age revealed that the state government is considering an alternative option that would use existing tracks to Sunshine.
This article first appeared on www.thecourier.com.au
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