It’s been discussed for five decades, but Melbourne Airport will have a dedicated rail link to take passengers into the city in 2029.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Saturday they were committing $5 billion each to the project, with work set to begin as early as 2022.
However, it will significantly not include earlier plans for a six-kilometre, $5 billion rail tunnel between the city and West Footscray, proposed by a private consortium.
Melbourne Airport chief executive, Lyell Strambi said the plan was “over 50 years in the making”.
“Naturally we are disappointed that the market-led proposal put forward by the Air Rail Melbourne consortium has been rejected,” said Strambi.
“However, we now look forward to working with the Victorian and Commonwealth governments to ensure the design of the airport end serves the needs of our guests and the wider Victorian community.
“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.”
Once complete, the rail link will take passengers into the CBD within 30 minutes and trains will arrive at 10-minute intervals.
The rail line will operate new ‘High Capacity Metro Trains’ and the existing SkyBus service will also be maintained.
The final route will see a fresh track run from the airport to Sunshine and then continue beneath the city via the $11 billion Metro Tunnel before continuing onwards to the south-eastern suburbs via the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines.
Travellers on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines, will be able to travel to the airport directly, while other metro lines will require one swap inside the tunnel which is due to be complete by 2025.
A new exchange at Sunshine, meanwhile, will connect Geelong passengers in an hour, Ballarat in 90 minutes and Bendigo in two hours.
“This has been talked about for decades,” Premier Andrews said. “The fact that it’s going to become a reality because of our partnership is a proud moment and a very important moment.
“You are getting to the centre of Melbourne quicker, you are using a service that isn’t available now and going where you want to go, rather than everybody having to hub through Southern Cross Station.”
PM Morrison added that international travellers have an “expectation of world-class cities that such infrastructure would be in place”.
The news comes shortly after the NSW government revealed the new Western Sydney Airport rail link to St Marys station will move 7,740 commuters an hour in each direction.
The $11 billion ‘Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport’ line will consist of six metro stations, two of which will be within the airport’s boundaries at the terminal and the business park.
Construction will begin this year after the federal government announced it would tip $5.25 billion into the project, which is also funded by the state of NSW.
“Trains will arrive up to every five minutes in the peak period in each direction as the initial operating capacity so customers won’t need a timetable – they’ll just turn up and go,” NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said.
Upon completion, up to 12 trains will run per hour during peak time, with the capacity for that to increase to 20.
However, residents in St Marys, Claremont Meadows, Orchard Hills, Luddenham and Bringelly have all been warned they will hear the sound of “noise intensive equipment”, according to a new environmental impact statement.
The tunnels will at points run as shallow as 15 metres below ground and will require the clearing of an area in the threatened Cumberland Plain Woodland.
The news of the forced home purchases comes amid the increasing fallout from the revelation that the government bought land next to Western Sydney Airport for 10 times as much as its actual value.