Melbourne Airport’s $10 billion airport rail link will include long stretches of ‘sky rail’ through the city’s north-western suburbs.
The Victorian government has confirmed the elevated sections will run through Sunshine North, Keilor East and Airport West, while the wider line itself will require homes to be purchased.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed in November they were committing $5 billion each to the project, which is due to be completed in 2029.
Victorian Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said, “There is a massive amount of engineering work to go through and there are options that look at elevated rail particularly over the parts of the network that go over parts of the Maribyrnong River.
“With every project, big and small, where there may be acquisitions required, we work very, very hard to minimise the number of properties that need to be acquired.”
“A project of this size and scale will go through an extensive design and consultation process.”
Shadow transport infrastructure minister David Davis has labelled the project the “slow train” because the 30-minute transfer time is slower than the current bus link’s 22 minutes.
“The market-led proposal that the government seems to have rejected would have added new and additional capacity in the form of tunnels,” Davis said.
“Those that would have come in from Melton, Ballarat and Bendigo will have capacity taken from their lines to substitute for the Melbourne Airport Line.”
Davis was referring to the state and federal government rejecting earlier plans for a six-kilometre, $5 billion rail tunnel between the city and West Footscray, proposed by a private consortium.
The approved six-kilometre line will, however, depart 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 completed 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 at its unveiling. “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”.