Melbourne’s beleaguered airport rail link is under federal government review despite $5 billion in funding being promised in the budget.
The government is conducting a 90-day review of the entire $120 billion Infrastructure Investment Program pipeline, which includes the $10 billion Melbourne Airport rail link originally slated to open by 2029. The broader Suburban Rail Loop project is exempt from the review.
In a media release, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Catherine King said the review would ensure investment in “projects that are truly nationally significant” and that under the Morrison government, projects in the pipeline blew out from 150 to almost 800.
“Projects were left without adequate funding, resources or genuine commitment. The Albanese government is keeping the $120 billion rolling 10-year pipeline – and every dollar remains in the budget. But it would be irresponsible to move ahead, without fixing the backlog,” she said.
“This review will allow all levels of government time to consider the projects that are actual priorities, and assess their cost and deliverability in the current climate. The process will help to lay firm foundations to build a more sustainable, credible pipeline of investment.”
A spokesperson for Minister King told the Herald Sun, “All Infrastructure Investment Program projects not currently under construction and not an election commitment are in the review. This includes the Melbourne Airport Rail Link. This is a genuine review to get the best outcome.
“This review, which has the co-operation of the states and territories, will look at what projects are still priorities for the Commonwealth, states and territories.”
The news comes after last month’s revelation that the rail link — which will connect Melbourne Airport to Sunshine Station via a new stop at Keilor East at a cost of up to $13 billion — will not meet its planned 2029 completion date, with Deputy Premier Jacinta Allan blaming the airport for “slow and frustrating” negotiations.
“It has been challenging to negotiate with the airport about how the project will be delivered on the land that they lease from the federal government to run the airport. It’s been slower than I would have liked,” Allan said, adding that state and federal budgets will also affect the outcome.
A spokesperson for the Victorian government told Australian Aviation, “This is a matter for the federal government.”