The Melbourne Airport Rail Link (MARL) is one step closer with the Victorian and Federal Governments formally signing off on the project.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews signed the Heads of Agreement, which sets out the strategic objectives, governance agreements and information sharing processes for the $10 billion joint commitment.
A project team will be established to develop a Business Case for the project, which aims to connect the Melbourne Airport to the rail network, but also to integrate it with the Metro Tunnel and future Suburban Rail Loop.
The MARL also aims to reduce congestion on the Tullamarine Freeway and unlock capacity for the growing population in Melbourne’s north-west.
Melbourne Airport is considered to be a key part of Victoria and Australia’s economic growth. In 2016/17, it handled more than 35 million passenger movements and is expected to almost double by 2038 as the Victorian population continues to grow.
Morrison said the people of Melbourne and Victoria had been waiting far too long for the rail link to become a reality.
“For decades Victorians have talked about a train line to the airport. 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,” he said.
“Melbourne is truly a global city that deserves world class infrastructure. The Rail Link is part of our plan to bust congestion across the city, and get people home faster and safer.
“I’d like to thank the Premier and Minister Tudge who have worked constructively with me to land this agreement and bring the project closer to fruition,” Morrison said.
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Andrews said the Victorian Government was not was not wasting a minute leading the planning work for an Airport Rail link.
“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,” Andrews said.
“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.”
Planning and development of the MARL is already underway, with Rail Projects Victoria engaging technical experts and commercial advisers for the project. Ecological, traffic and geotechnical investigations are also underway.
Early market engagement of the MARL Business Case has attracted submissions from more than 100 local and global organisations, with further market sounding to take place to assess equity partners, private sector involvement and financing arrangements.
A reference group of industry and local government representatives will be established to provide guidance and feedback to the project team.
Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population Alan Tudge said following the successful widening of the Tullamarine Freeway, the airport link would bust congestion for generations to come.
“This is a critical project for Melbourne. It will make it easier for residents and make our city more attractive to visitors,” Tudge said.
“When complete, someone in Pakenham, Frankston or Ringwood will be able to get onto the train and be at the airport in the time it would have taken to drive, but without having to worry about parking.”
Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said this is part of the Victorian Government’s unprecedented pipeline of major transport projects.
“We’re building the Metro Tunnel, removing dangerous level crossings and getting on with the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.”
“This is not just about getting from the airport to the city – it’s about better connecting our suburbs and regions, so people have better services wherever they live.”
The State and Federal Governments have committed up to $5 billion each to deliver the MARL, with the total cost of the project estimated to be $8-13 billion, with construction to take nine years and commence in 2022.
The Business Case will be delivered by 2020 and will assess station and procurement options, value capture and economic analysis of the recommended solution.