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It appears Melbourne is finally set to get an airport rail line after 60 years of discussion. No more time wasted bumper to bumper on the Tulla? Sounds grand. But which route will be chosen? We outline the pros and cons of each suggested passage.
Via the existing Craigieburn line and new tracks through Westmeadows. The original route for the airport rail line envisaged in the 1960s. The equal cheapest because it largely uses an existing rail reservation or land beneath the flight path for construction. However building the road via this route would add to road congestion at multiple level crossings along the corridor.
Via Flemington using both existing rail line and a new rail tunnel. This option would include some tunnelling but incorporate the existing Flemington rail reservation. It would also include a new station at Highpoint shopping centre and run through contaminated land at the Maribyrnong Defence Site. Found the least satisfactory of the four routes when modelled by Public Transport Victoria in 2013 because it was expensive but still had serious social and construction impacts.
Via the Maribyrnong Defence Site using tunnelling all the way. More expensive than any other project - as much as double, according to the 2013 study - but also the quickest route to the airport. Along with extensive tunnelling, this route would need to deal with serious contamination at the federal government’s Maribyrnong Defence Site. Canberra is in the process of selling that site for housing and is keen to make the airport rail link part of that "legacy" project.
Via Sunshine. Preferred by the Victorian government and would incorporate the Metro Tunnel project, due for completion in 2026. But also longer than the more expensive options via the Maribyrnong Defence Site. Selected in 2001 as the Victorian government’s route for rail to the airport, and against chosen as the best route in 2013, it offers the best network connectivity and regeneration options for the west.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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