Unlike the often slow-moving Skybus, plans for Melbourne's long-awaited airport rail link seem to be speeding ahead. Last year, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that construction would start within ten years; however that timeline has been updated. Work is now set to get underway within the next four years if the state's current Labor government is re-elected.
As revealed today by the Premier, 2022 is the new commencement date for the rail link — and the service also now has a proposed route. The government's preferred plan is to connect the CBD to Tullamarine via an expanded transport hub at Sunshine station, as well as using the existing Albion East rail reserve plus sections of tunnel to connect from there to the airport. Facilitating links to regional and metro train lines including the Melbourne Metro, it's known as the Sunshine alignment, and it's the frontrunner among the four routes under consideration.
BREAKING NEWS: Airport Rail is finally happening. We've spent the last few years removing level crossings, and building the Metro Tunnel. Now we'll get this done. Watch how. pic.twitter.com/JxxXCBmQ8l
"This project has been talked about for too long, it's time to get on and build it and that's exactly what we'll do," said Premier Andrews in a statement.
The proposed rail line is expected to help ease congestion, speed up travel times and create a stack of new jobs in the process — and finally give Melbourne a services that plenty of other state capitals already have, with Sydney and Brisbane's airport rail links long-established, and Perth currently in the process of building its own.
Melbourne's airport rail link will commence construction as the state's other major train infrastructure project nears completion, with the $11 billion Melbourne Metro slated to be up and running through stations in Parkville, North Melbourne, CBD North, CBD South and the Domain by 2025.