The preferred alignment for the project will use the existing suburban tracks to Sunshine station, which will become a major interchange, with a dedicated track running from Sunshine to the airport. When completed in 2029, trains will run every 10 minutes through the new metro tunnel, scheduled for completion by 2025. The journey time from the airport to the centre of Melbourne will be less than 30 minutes.
The Victorian government had previously argued that dedicated tracks, including a tunnel, could be needed between the city and Sunshine. However, Victorian state premier, Mr Daniel Andrews says the chosen option is cheaper to build, delivered faster and is backed by transport and financial experts. The government argues the main benefit of the chosen airport rail route is that it will be integrated into the existing network.
Both governments agreed to jointly fund the project, with each pledging to contribute $A 5bn. Andrews and Australian prime minister, Mr Scott Morrison, reaffirmed this commitment. The project is expected to cost $A 8-10bn and work is due to start in 2022.
The Victorian government also confirmed that it will contribute $A 2bn towards upgrading the main line to Geelong in preparation for express train services to the city, matching $A 2bn already pledged by Canberra.
The upgrade to the Geelong line will enable a 50-minute journey for travellers heading to Melbourne. The upgrade includes 12km of new track between Werribee and Laverton and a plan to run Geelong trains via Werribee. Construction will begin in 2023.
The Victorian state budget also includes $A 1.48bn to support the procurement of 100 new modern, accessible LRVs to replace ageing class A and Z stock, and to build a new maintenance depot. The state describes the upcoming fleet order as its largest for decades and it is expected to support close to 1900 manufacturing and supply chain jobs.
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