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A RAIL link to Melbourne airport could be built without Victorian funding because the Turnbull Government is willing to explore all options to kickstart the project.
The Herald Sun understands that Canberra is also keen for the airport-to-CBD link to run through the former defence site at Maribyrnong — a 127ha precinct that could fit up to 6000 new homes.
This route could link Footscray with Tullamarine, with a direct track through the new suburb also servicing Highpoint Shopping Centre.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sees the multi-billion-dollar airport link as a high priority and is keen to explore all viable funding options.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sees ta multi-billion-dollar Melbourne airport link as a high priority. Picture: AAP/Mal FaircloughThese could include outright federal ownership of the project — with Canberra financing and delivering the rail link.
The Commonwealth has committed $30 million to develop a business case. Private sector proposals will also be considered, with a strong emphasis to be put on servicing growth areas and recovering some of the value the project would generate for private landowners.
Mr Turnbull says the federal government will invest in a viable project that delivers taxpayer value. “The Commonwealth isn’t just an ATM, we want to be a partner in infrastructure,” he said.
“All of the world’s great cities have a rail link to the airport. Melbourne should be no different, if the business case stacks up.”
Mr Turnbull also pointed to the latest census figures, released on Tuesday, showing Melbourne would soon be the nation’s biggest city.
.The Andrews Government said in April it would look at opportunities to save money and deliver the Tullamarine rail link sooner through private sector proposals.
The state government has control of the rail network and would need to have some involvement in the project.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester on Tuesday said planning needed to start “as soon as possible”.
“We need to work out first of all, what’s the question we’re trying to answer? Is it just about a rail link for the airport or is it to provide another function in terms of linking the outer suburbs as well?” Mr Chester told the ABC.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has also flagged his interest in the project this year, saying he wanted to work with Mr Turnbull to “look at possible paths” for the rail line.
A $5 billion private plan for a light rail line using driverless trains to connect the city to the airport, Doncaster and Monash University is also likely to be considered.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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