The Victorian government has identified the preferred route for a $260 million rail line linking Melbourne’s Avalon Airport to the existing Melbourne-Geelong track.
A spur rail line of about 5.5km that begins between Lara and Little River stations on the Melbourne-Geelong rail line was identified as the most preferred option, according to the Avalon Airport Rail Link (AARL) report published on Friday.
The report said trains to the airport would operate directly from both Melbourne’s Southern Cross station and Geelong station. The journey time was about 45 minutes from Southern Cross and 22 minutes from Geelong.
However, the report left open the option of shuttle services running from Lara and Little River, or a new station.
“As a future-proofing measure, AARL had been designed to ensure that interim public transport modes could also be introduced on the corridor if required in the future,” the report said.
“If a shuttle service using interim modes were to be introduced at any time, an interchange station would be required. Such interchanges could be at Lara Station, Little River Station or a new station on the existing rail line where it joins AARL.”
The track will run across mostly open farm land between the existing railway line and the Princes Freeway and the terminal.
There was about 33.33 hectares of private land that needed to be reserved for the rail link corridor. The width of the corridor would vary between 34 metres and 95 metres.
The report noted industry forecasts predicted Melbourne would have about 120 million air passengers by 2061 and that there were long-lead times and costs associated with expansion at Tullamarine. Moreover, international experience had shown that rail links had helped attract airlines to low-cost airports.
“Avalon’s key market is the low-cost travel market, and in order to be attractive to low-cost carriers, airports need to be served by a range of transport modes – and more specifically have excellent public transport links,” the report said.
The plans were available for community consultation at the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure website.
“Having two international curfew-free airports, both with rail links, gives Victoria a massive economic advantage, especially compared with other states, by allowing for increased competition in the aviation industry and improved tourism access,” Victorian premier Denis Napthine said in a statement on Friday.
The Victorian government was also planning to build a rail line from the Melbourne CBD to Tullamarine airport.
Currently, only Jetstar flights from Sydney operate into Avalon, while Qantas recently closed its heavy maintenance base at the airport.
However, in April, the owners of Avalon Airport Linfox Group and HNA Group signed a memorandum of understanding committing both to collaborating on some joint-initiatives towards starting commercial flights and air freight services between Avalon and China within 18 months.
HNA Group is the company that owns Hainan Airlines.
In April, Avalon also announced a cut in landing fees in a bid to stimulate traffic.