The Victorian government has released the first image and details of a proposed 50-metre-high bridge that will carry tracks from Melbourne Airport’s new rail link.
The 500 metre-long structure will cross over the Maribyrnong River and will be the second-highest in the state after the West Gate.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed in November they were committing $5 billion each to finally create a train link from Tullamarine into the city, which is due to be completed in 2029.
Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said on Monday the bridge would be a “big part” of the rail link.
“It’s fair to say both levels of government are very keen to get into the delivery phase of this project as we finalise the planning and design work,” Minister Allan said at Treasury Gardens.
The state government also described how airport trains would “gradually rise to travel on new elevated twin tracks” between Sunshine and the Albion Junction, “before descending and continuing at ground level alongside the existing freight line through Sunshine and Airport West towards the airport”.
Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher said a decision has yet to be taken as to the exact location of the station at Tullamarine.
It was also confirmed that only commercial properties would be acquired, meaning no residential homes would be force purchased.
“The majority of those have known for many years the potential for the acquisition because there’s been a public acquisition overlay in place for quite some time,” said Evan Tattersall, chief executive of Rail Projects Victoria.
Australian Aviation first reported in December how Melbourne Airport’s $10 billion airport rail link will include long stretches of ‘sky rail’ through the city’s north-western suburbs.
The approved six-kilometre line will depart at 10-minute intervals, operate new ‘High Capacity Metro Trains’ and the existing SkyBus service will 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 last year 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”.
Shadow transport infrastructure minister David Davis has previously 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.