Plans to build the Melbourne Airport Rail Link have been formally signed off by the Victorian and Australian governments. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews signed the project’s ‘heads of agreement’ setting out the strategic objectives, governance arrangements and information sharing processes for the AU$10bn (£5.4bn) joint commitment.
The state and federal governments have committed up to AU$5bn each to deliver the link. The total cost of the project is estimated to be in the range of AU$8bn to AU$13bn, with construction to take up to nine years and due to commence in 2022.
Early market engagement on the project attracted submissions from more than 100 local and global organisations. Further market sounding will be undertaken to assess equity partners, private sector involvement, financing arrangements and other matters.
“For decades Victorians have talked about a train line to the airport”, said Morrison. “We are delivering it. In last year’s Budget we made a $5 billion investment in the Melbourne Airport Rail Link. It was the biggest infrastructure commitment in the Budget”.
A project team will be established to drive the development of a full business case for the project, which will connect Melbourne Airport to the rail network for the first time and also integrate with the Metro Tunnel and the future Suburban Rail Loop.
“The Melbourne Airport Rail Link has been talked about for far too long – we’re doing the detailed planning and development work to make it a reality”, said Andrews. “By choosing the Sunshine route, we are ensuring all Victorians can benefit from the rail link, including people living in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo. As we complete the business case, we’re also doing the work needed to deliver fast rail to the regions”.
In 2016/17, Melbourne Airport handled more than 35 million passenger movements; by 2038 the number is expected to be more than 67 million, as Victoria’s population continues to grow and demand increases. Melbourne Airport Rail Link is designed to alleviate congestion on the main road connection to the airport, the Tullamarine Freeway, and unlock capacity for the growing population in Melbourne’s north-west.