Melbourne Airport Rail Link
Preferred bidder announced
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Preferred bidder announced
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The Melbourne Airport Rail Link (MARL) is a proposed rail transit service between the Tullamarine Airport and the Melbourne CBD.
In 2005 the Victorian Government reserved land for a rail link to Melbourne Airport, which spurred off an existing freight corridor that runs between the Sunbury and Craigieburn lines.
Known as the Albion East Design, the design includes new track along the Sunbury line, which connects to Southern Cross Station or the Melbourne Metro Tunnel. This design was re-recommended in Public Transport Victoria’s (PTVs) 2013 Melbourne Airport Rail Link Study. However, Infrastructure Victoria has cautioned that further work to examine alternative network configurations for accommodating the line is warranted. Other options considered as part of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link study included:
- a Direct tunnel link, with potential new stations at Milleara Road, the Federal Government's Defence site, Highpoint and Victoria University;
- a Flemington link mirroring the Direct tunnel link up to Highpoint before connecting to the existing Flemington line; and
- a Craigieburn link, using the existing Craigieburn line and new track through Westmeadows.
The Flemington link and Craigieburn link would connect to Southern Cross Station, while the Albion East Design and the Direct tunnel link would utilise the Melbourne Metro Tunnel.
Assuming the use of the Melbourne Metro Tunnel, estimated journey times between the Airport and the CBD along this route would be 30 minutes, with a train every 10 minutes.
Infrastructure Victoria notes that the MARL could potentially use new 10-car High Capacity Trains (HCT2) and could possibly receive "beneficiary charges" if there is substantial uplift in land values around the rail line.
Melbourne Airport has included the MARL in their 2013 master plan, which sets a goal of having at least 30 per cent of trips to the airport by public transport in the long term.
The Victorian Government announced in the 2017-18 State Budget $10 million (from the Federal Government's Asset Recycling Initiative) to develop a MARL plan in partnership with the private sector, while the Federal Government in their 2017-18 Budget, announced $30 million would be put towards a business case. The Treasurer also noted the MARL could be supported through the $10 billion National Rail Program, subject to a positive business case.
In November 2017, the Victorian and Commonwealth governments met with industry and formally commenced the business case study, which is looking at:
- potential corridors for the rail link;
- existing and future rail upgrades across the metropolitan network; and
- proposals from private industry.
The study will build on previous studies to examine potential transport improvements for Melbourne Airport, along with new detailed transport planning and analysis.
In the lead up to the 2018-19 Federal Budget, the Federal Government announced it would invest $5 billion for the MARL project, indicating it expects to enter a 50:50 funding partnership with the Victorian Government while also welcoming private sector investment. The 2018-19 Budget papers note that the $5 billion investment would be provided as equity or otherwise as agreed, with half coming from the Infrastructure Investment Program and the other half from the National Rail Program. Media reports suggest the MARL could cost as much as $15 billion depending on the route chosen.
The Federal Government's announcement indicated the business case is considering the previous four routes examined by PTVs 2013 Melbourne Airport Rail Link study with the only modification being the Direct tunnel link option heading to Southern Cross Station.
The 2018-19 Victorian Budget allocated $50 million towards detailed planning and technical investigations to identify the preferred option for MARL along with options to integrate a fast rail link between Geelong and Melbourne. In July 2018, the Victorian Government announced that if re-elected at the November 2018 State election, it would match Federal Government funding by providing up to $5 billion towards MARL. The Victorian Government also identified the Sunshine (Albion east) alignment as the Victorian Government's preferred alignment. The Sunshine alignment was chosen due to its comparatively lower cost and earlier deliverability along with having superior connections to regional Victoria and the Metro Tunnel.
Despite matching the Federal Government's allocation, the Victorian Government has stated private sector contributions will also play a part in the delivery of the project. The full business case using the Sunshine alignment is expected to be completed in 2019/20, with construction scheduled to begin by the end of 2022.
The total cost of the Sunshine alignment is estimated to be between $8-$13 billion.
Rail Projects Victoria (formerly the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority) is responsible for the delivery of MARL.
Infrastructure Australia lists Melbourne Airport to CBD public transport capacity as a priority initiative that is of medium term importance.
Last reviewed: 27/07/2018
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