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The Federal and Victorian Governments have each committed $5 billion to the long-awaited Melbourne Airport Rail Link and announced the route for the project.
The project is expected to create up to 8000 jobs during construction.
Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, joined Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, to announce the route, which will connect Victoria’s regional and metropolitan rail networks to the airport for the first time, allowing travellers to travel from the airport to the heart of the city in less than 30 minutes. From 2029, Victorians will be able to catch a train directly from the CBD to the airport.
Airport trains will run through the Metro Tunnel, meaning families in the south-eastern suburbs can get to the airport without changing trains, and the majority of Victorians can get to the airport with just one interchange from their closest station.
It also means that tourists visiting Victoria will be able to get from the airport to regional Victoria in a hassle-free way.
Melbourne Airport Rail will also see ten minute turn-up-and-go services running from Melbourne Airport through the heart of the city, providing direct connections to key sites including Melbourne University, the Parkville medical precinct, Melbourne Central and Flinders Street stations and the St Kilda Road business precinct.
Melbourne’s west will have direct airport access via a single interchange at Sunshine Station, or Footscray Station for Werribee and Williamstown line passengers. Travellers on all city loop trains will also be able to connect to airport trains at Flinders Street and Melbourne Central.
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 via a single interchange at a choice of locations along the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines.
The Victorian Government said that the project provides the best possible integration with the existing network and paves the way for future improvements to regional and western metropolitan lines and the Melbourne Airport Rail will use the new fleet of High Capacity Metro Trains – the biggest and most passenger-friendly trains on Victoria’s train network.
“The airport link is a nationally significant project and Victorians have been waiting a long time for it to become a reality. With construction to start in 2022, the agreement will support up to 8,000 jobs during construction,” the Prime Minister said.
“When complete, the link will slash travel times, bust congestion and be a major boost to the economy.”
Premier Andrews said the announcement was historic for all of Victoria.
“This project has been talked about for a long time, its 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.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said this vital piece of infrastructure would transform travel to and from Melbourne Airport.
“The aviation industry is so important to Australia’s economy and by investing in this rail link, we’re making it even easier for Victorians to travel to and from Melbourne Airport,” Mr McCormack said.
“This investment is an important part of the economic road back – it will be a job-creator for Victorians and a huge boost to so many local businesses across the construction industry.”
Industry leaders have welcomed the announcement, and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) Chief Executive Officer, Caroline Wilkie, said that the announcement was a welcome boost for the people of Melbourne as they start their economic recovery.
“Today’s decision will unlock the Federal and Victorian governments’ combined $10 billion commitment to speed the state’s recovery and deliver a rail link that will serve the community well for years to come,” Ms Wilkie said.
Ms Wilkie said rail construction projects have driven job growth across the country in recent years, and that trend would continue with the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.
Melbourne Airport Chief Executive, Lyell Strambi, also welcomed the news, saying that international travellers expect airport rail for a global city like Melbourne.
“We are excited that the Commonwealth and Victorian governments have come together to make this project a reality. Of course, this is just the first step and there remains a lot of detail to work through,” Mr Strambi said.
“International visitors to Melbourne expect rail transport from the airport. It is an expectation of a truly global city. Victorians too, have been crying out for an airport rail link as Melbourne continues its trajectory to be Australia’s biggest city by population.”
Detailed planning and development work is currently underway, which will inform more detailed cost estimates.
Construction will begin in 2022, with a target completion date for Melbourne Airport Rail of 2029 – subject to the business case and relevant Victorian and Federal planning, environmental and other government approvals.
This article first appeared on infrastructuremagazine.com.au
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