CBD to airport, direct
Airport link to create capital of the west
MELBOURNE’S airport rail link will take commuters directly to and from Tullamarine to the CBD, regardless of which design is chosen for the long-awaited project.
The Herald Sun can reveal the state government’s preferred option — moving airport passengers through the Metro Tunnel — allows travellers to avoid changing trains on their journey.
That option will also enable airport trains every 10 minutes.
Some airport trains would stop only at the proposed new Sunshine rail hub, while others would likely stop at inner west suburban stations.
A decision on the design is imminent, with the state and federal governments also considering a private sector offer featuring a new 6km tunnel from West Footscray to Southern Cross station.
This proposal — backed by a $7 billion investment from a consortium including Metro Trains and Melbourne Airport — also offers direct services every 10 minutes.
The Herald Sun can reveal this option has been costed at $11.5 billion, including $6.5 billion for the tunnel and $1.2 billion to redevelop Sunshine station.
But the government has put the cost at between $14 billion and $20 billion.
Sources close to the deliberations say some government bureaucrats found the private sector proposal was unique and represented value for money — two key criteria for it to be approved.
But the state government has been concerned about the consortium — which is bankrolled by super fund giant IFM Investors — owning the tunnel and charging access to other rail services.
The Herald Sun understands the consortium has rejected overtures to ditch the tunnel and change its proposal.
Having spent $40 million on its bid, it maintains the tunnel is the most effective solution, and has offered to take on the risk of the underground build — another key issue given the problems gripping construction of the West Gate and Metro tunnels.
After months of talks, the state and federal governments are close to locking in the final design of the project, to which each has committed $5 billion.
If the consortium’s offer is rejected, a key sticking point will be how to create extra track capacity through Melbourne’s west to improve services to a growth corridor and deliver fast rail to Geelong.
This could see a second Metro Tunnel — taking trains through Werribee and then under the CBD via Newport, Fishermans Bend and Clifton Hill — as a potential solution.
HE airport rail project is expected to turn Sunshine into “the capital of Melbourne’s west”, creating a major transport hub that supports of thousands of new jobs.
All options for the longawaited link will run through Sunshine, after the state and federal governments decided in 2018 to reject routes running through Maribyrnong, Flemington and Craigieburn.
Last year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Daniel Andrews signed an agreement that paved the way for construction to begin in 2022, but the exact route is yet to be decided, with, it’s believed, the federal government preferring a tunnel from the CBD to Sunshine and the state government opting for existing above-ground tracks.
Either way, it means Sunshine station will be overhauled to cater for commuters travelling to and from the airport and serve as a hub for regional services out to Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo.
Government documents show Sunshine — just 11km from the CBD — is seen to offer “significant value capture and creation opportunities” for development around the station.
And Brimbank Mayor Georgina Papafotiou told the Herald Sun there had already been a “significant increase” in interest from developers and investors wanting to build commercial and residential towers, hotels and entertainment complexes.
“Our vision is that by 2050, Sunshine will be recognised as the capital of Melbourne’s west,” she said.
“This landmark project will reinvent Brimbank as a thriving economic centre — unlocking jobs now and for future generations, re-establishing Brimbank as an employment epicentre for Melbourne and Victoria’s west.”
The Metro Tunnel, due to open in 2025, will put Sunshine on a direct line all the way from Sunbury to Cranbourne and Pakenham.
The state government also wants to include Sunshine in the Suburban Rail Loop, providing another link to the northern and eastern suburbs.
Sunshine has already been designated as a national employment and innovation cluster, with a focus on providing healthcare, education and other government services to the booming growth corridor around Melton, Sunbury and Wyndham.
The Herald Sun revealed last year that former premier Steve Bracks was leading the West of Melbourne Economic Development Alliance’s efforts to invigorate the area, with a vision of creating
50,000 jobs. The alliance’s plan for Sunshine included a new sports stadium, a second home for the National Gallery of Victoria and tram links to Footscray, Deer Park, Altona and Moonee Ponds.
Mr Bracks also called for government services to be shifted from the CBD to a new courts and public administration hub in Sunshine, creating 8000 jobs.
The alliance’s plan forecast 15,000 jobs could be created in healthcare, including a new medical research precinct, and another 15,000 in manufacturing and construction with training and skills facilities.
Cr Papafotiou said the council was calling for a new working group to bring together employers and educational institutions to plan for that employment growth.
“Council is ready, able and willing to help attract and secure more government jobs.”
AIRPORT TRAIN TERMINAL
SUNSHINE TRAIN STATION