Progress has been made on a long-awaited rail link to Melbourne Airport thanks to $5 billion from the Australian government.
“The time for talk is over” read a statement announcing the funding on prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s website.
“Talk about a rail connection to the Melbourne Airport is as old as the airport itself but through a Commonwealth investment of $5 billion, this nationally significant project will now become reality.
“There have been countless reviews, reports and recommendations but Melbourne is still waiting for a service almost all of the world’s great cities take for granted.”
The rail link was first mooted in the 1960s and will run from Melbourne’s central business district to the airport, which is used by 34 million people each year.
In total four routes are being considered, including overground and underground options and a combination of the two. A business case process is set to be concluded in the near future to assess the best route, best mode of transport and the expected costs.
The Victorian government is expected to provide 50 per cent of the necessary funds for the project but private investment has not been ruled out.
As well as reducing travel times to the airport when compared to the journey by bus, the project is predicted to tackle congestion on the connecting Tullamarine and Calder freeways, boost the state of Victoria’s economy and create thousands of new jobs.
It could also result in new housing in the surrounding areas and improved connectivity with new railway stations between Melbourne and the airport.
The Australasian Railway Association’s (ARA) CEO Danny Broad said the link is vital due to congestion on the airport’s surrounding freeways.
He added: “The ARA is of the view that any proposed route will need to consider the highest frequency for commuters, journey time so it is to compete with other modes of travel and be accessible to commuters who travel to large regional centres, including Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo.
“With Melbourne’s population forecast to reach 8 million by 2051 and the increase in international and interstate travellers, it is important for the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments to act now.”
Melbourne is the second busiest airport in Australia with estimates predicting the number of passengers will reach 60 million by 2030.
Current rail links connect Sydney and Brisbane airports to their respective cities and a rail link is currently under construction in Perth.