Skybus devotees, turn away now. The federal government has publicly declared its support for a long-demanded airport railway link.
Speaking to 3AW yesterday morning, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said, “I’m a big supporter of rail … it’s always been … seen as an omission in Melbourne, not [to] have a rail line out to the airport,”
"As our cities become bigger and more densely settled you need to have more mass transit.”
The federal budget will be handed down in May. The Herald Sun reports that more than $1 billion in funding is expected to be pledged in support of the rail link. This money will most likely come from a debt that is owed to Victoria from the asset recycling fund of the Port of Melbourne.
The state government has so far refused to commit to the link, Victorian Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan told ABC 774 that an “Infrastructure Victoria report indicated that an airport rail link is needed within 15 to 30 years”. Other projects, such as the Melbourne Metro Rail link, have been cited as more pressing.
A rail link to the Tullamarine airport is increasingly being seen as a necessity for easing congestion on Melbourne’s roads. Earlier this year a petition demanding the construction of a rail link attracted more than 5000 signatures.
In a 2012 study PTV determined that on a typical weekday there are 107,000 single-person trips in and out of the airport. The study concluded that despite the high costs a future rail link would become increasingly important for managing transport corridors.