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Airport train services will run every 10 minutes through the new Metro Tunnel, taking tens of millions of travellers annually less than 30 minutes to-and-from Melbourne's city centre under the long-awaited route for the rail project to be unveiled on Saturday.
Melbourne's $8-$13 billion airport rail link will be finally revealed by Premier Daniel Andrews and Prime Minister Scott Morrison after more than 50 years of debate. It will include plans for 12 kilometres of new track on the Geelong line, between Werribee and Laverton, to enable more frequent and faster services from the city's booming outer western suburbs. Both governments have pledged $5 billion each for the project.
Trains will run to Melbourne airport via the new Melbourne Metro tunnel.CREDITAUL ROVERE
The route was chosen ahead of a $7 billion private sector proposal, which included a dedicated airport rail tunnel between the city and Sunshine that proponents argued would have enabled fast services to the airport and the regions.
Under the final route, airport trains would run along fresh tracks from the airport to Sunshine and continue beneath the city via the new Metro Tunnel and onto the south-eastern suburbs via the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines.
More than 30 stations through the network will allow commuters a direct trip to the airport without changing services, while the overwhelming majority of travellers will have one interchange from their closest station.
Airport tickets will be incorporated into the existing system, with state government estimates that it will cost about the same as a $19.50 SkyBus ticket and will be paid for on the Myki card.
In a bid to boost the Victorian economy following the COVID-19 induced recession, planned construction will start as soon as 14 months away, creating an estimated 8000 jobs and aiming to be fully operational by 2029, pending a business case and planning requirements.
Passengers from the regional centres of Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo will travel to the airport via a single interchange at Sunshine, while passengers from Gippsland will be connected through a single interchange at a choice of locations along the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines.
Travellers on all city loop trains will be able to connect to airport trains at Flinders Street and Melbourne Central. The services will run the new high capacity metro trains to the airport, instead of a dedicated airport fleet.
Mr Morrison, who is quarantining at The Lodge in Canberra following a two-day trip to Japan, said when completed the link would slash travel times, bust congestion and be a major boost to the economy.
"The airport link is a nationally significant project and Victorians have been waiting a long time for it to become a reality," he said.
Mr Andrews said the announcement was a historic day for all of Victoria.
"This project has been talked about for a long time, it's key to our recovery and this design means it will benefit all Victorians," Mr Andrews said.
"As we continue our recovery, we need a long-term plan. We need a pipeline of jobs for Victorians looking for work now, and for those who will need jobs in the future. We said we’d deliver this project, and we’re keeping our promise."
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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