Airport Rail survives


Star Weekly is looking back at the best stories of last year and this is one of them.

November 21

After months of finger pointing, the future of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link is clearer with the federal government confirming it would provide funding for the project.

The federal government released its long-awaited national infrastructure review on November 16, of major projects for the next 10 years which had previously received funding commitments, with 50 projects across the country to lose funding.

The airport rail project which will build a train line from Sunshine to Melbourne Airport will be built, with the federal government commitment of $5 billion remaining.

Two new stations, Keilor East and an airport station, and upgrades to Sunshine and Albion stations are part of the rail link project.

Outgoing Brimbank mayor Bruce Lancashire said the announcement is a welcome step towards further action and solid commitments to realising important infrastructure in Melbourne’s west.

“Our community expects these projects to be delivered and continued delays cause frustration and uncertainty with community and stakeholders,” he said.

“Done right, major transport infrastructure investment coming to Brimbank will transform Sunshine into the CBD of Melbourne’s west. This is a once in a generation opportunity to deliver much needed local jobs and affordable housing, to improve lives and livelihoods and create positive lasting change.”

Earlier this year, then deputy premier and Transport Minister Jacinta Allan announced in April that the Melbourne Airport Rail project would not be completed by 2029.

Ms Allan told media on Thursday that “stalling tactics” from Melbourne Airport have caused delay to the project.

“For three years we have been attempting to negotiate with the airport on how we can best deliver the rail line and the station in that airport footprint, and those negotiations have been incredibly frustrating,” she said.

“In welcoming the federal government’s commitment to the project, we also welcome the airport to see how we can best deliver this project on behalf of the Victorian community.”

A Melbourne Airport spokesperson said the airport welcomes the release of the Commonwealth infrastructure review.

“Our preference has always been, and remains, for an underground station. The airport station must be fit for purpose and future proof, to ensure that passengers are well served and so that neither the airport precinct or rail line are constrained as Melbourne continues to grow.”