Tunnel flagged for airport rail link

By Tate Papworth

A tunnel between Sunshine and the Melbourne CBD is likely to be included in the government’s plan to develop an airport rail link.

Under the plan announced last week, additional tracks will be built between Sunshine and the CBD to run extra services, most likely through a new rail tunnel to be used by airport-bound trains and integrated with the airport rail link.

The government has committed $5 billion towards the airport rail link via Sunshine, but says more needs to be done. Premier Daniel Andrews has pledged $150 million towards a business case for the Western Rail Plan which would include a fast rail to Geelong and Ballarat and the full separation of regional and metro train services.

The separation of regional and metro services has to occur before fast trains can be delivered, and the full plan is expected to take about a decade to complete.

Mr Andrews said it was vital the project was done right.

“This plan will deliver the transformation that our state needs – electrification of rail lines out to the west, and fast rail to Geelong and Ballarat, returning country trains to country communities.”

Construction on the project is slated to start by 2022.

In September AirRail, a consortium comprised of IFM Investors, Melbourne Airport, Metro Trains Australia and Southern Cross Station, unveiled its blueprint for the development of the rail link with the Victorian and Australian governments.

It promised the fastest travel times, a premium around-the-clock service and enhanced access for regional Victorians under a $15 billion plan.

Under the proposal, travel time from the airport to the city would take just 20 minutes and Sunshine station would be redeveloped as a super-hub.