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MELBOURNE risks falling behind other major Australian cities such as Sydney, Perth and Brisbane unless a rail service to the airport is built, state Opposition Leader Matthew Guy claims.
During a visit to Leader’s office on July 28, the Liberal party leader and former Planning Minister said the project had been one of his “absolute priorities” in a growing city of more than four million people.
But he said Perth was moving faster towards an airport rail link, with construction of the Western Australian network expected to start next year.
It follows Sydney and Brisbane, both of which already have airport rail connections.
An airport rail link, promised by former premier Denis Napthine, has been on the cards for years with a proposed alignment through Albion East, but was shelved by the current Andrews State Government.
“It is in my view one of the major pressing transport problems for our city,” Mr Guy said.
“It’s a no-brainer that Melbourne Airport needs a railway. It’s the biggest infrastructure question for (the airport).”
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Hume councillor Jack Medcraft also called on the government to reconsider the project, saying the airport was the biggest employer for the area.
With major growth in Melbourne’s west, he said the long-term vision needed to be realised.
“We’ve got a first class airport but we’ve got a third class transport system,” Cr Medcraft said.
“There’s a lot of people in Sunbury who would love to have a train from Melbourne Airport to the city.”
Public Transport Users’ Association president Tony Morton said they had long-supported a rail line to the airport as one of several overdue rail extensions in Melbourne’s suburbs.
“Over the years there have been many lost opportunities to extend a train line to the airport, which were ignored by governments intent on encouraging car travel,” he said.
“While the existing SkyBus service works well to provide a public transport option for a small proportion of airport travellers, we believe that public transport ought to become the mode of choice for at least one third to one half of travellers.”
Melbourne Airport has backed a rail link for some time, with provisions in its 2013 Master Plan.
Kosta Pandos, spokesman for Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan, said Labor’s promised projects, including the Melbourne Metro Rail, were its immediate priorities.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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