Concept art of the Melbourne Airport station

It’s about time: Give Melbourne airport rail a clear runway

Published in The Courier 17 November, 2023

The announcement this week by federal Infrastructure Minister and local member Catherine King to give a Melbourne Airport Rail a lifeline, is good news for Ballarat, regional Victoria and the state.

For generations travellers have been denied efficient and direct travel by train to Melbourne Airport.

The best cities in the world have great airport rail and Melbourne deserves nothing less.

For those who live in Ballarat and the region, we will continue to advocate for the proposed Airport Rail Hub at Sunshine.

This means a V/Line to Sunshine, one change, then express to Tullamarine. This will save time and money.

Parking at Melbourne airport is expensive and congestion on the various access routes, especially during peak hours, are challenges a world class Airport Rail service would overcome.

For Melbourne Airport Rail to proceed as quickly as possible – remember, it has been spoken about for multiple generations – the state and federal governments and the airport authorities need to work together and just get the deal done.

The Melbourne Airport Rail project cannot afford to be bogged down in discussions about above ground or underground.

Surely sufficient planning has been done to ensure the best long-term outcome for the project.

Nor can the project be distracted by the state government’s desire to secure funding commitments for the Suburban Rail Loop.

In November 2020, the state’s decision to use the Metro tunnel as the link between the airport and the city saw Australian Superannuation funds withdraw their market-led proposal for a partnership with the state that would have invested $7 billion into the project.

The Melbourne Airport Rail project has been supported by the independent federal review of national infrastructure projects. Many others have not, including the Melbourne to Geelong Fast Rail project.

It demonstrates the project’s great merit and its future significance.

Now is the time to see the federal and state governments, the airport authorities, and all other stakeholders to come together and genuinely commit to this project.

It’s been generations in the making, the best cities in the world have great airport rail connections, and we need to remove cars from our increasingly congested roads.

Let’s hope this time, Melbourne Airport Rail gets a clear runway.

Michael Poulton
CEO, Committee for Ballarat