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A NEW rail link with fast trains from Avalon Airport to Melbourne and connected to the new Tullamarine link is being pursued.
The Geelong council is pushing the concept, as the Victorian Government investigates a new high-speed rail link between the state’s two biggest cities.
Mayor Bruce Harwood has recently met Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan, where he presented the council’s long-term vision.
Cr Harwood said the proposed new line would allow Geelong travellers to reach Melbourne’s CBD within 35 minutes.
The current line would be extended to a purpose-built station at Avalon, which would then run direct to Sunshine at close to 180km/h.
Passengers could then continue to Southern Cross Station, or transfer to Tullamarine Airport via the proposed new rail link.
“Now that’s the dream, but it’s becoming a far more realistic discussion,” Cr Harwood told the Geelong Advertiser, stating that Avalon’s new international airport provided the project more momentum.
He cited the need to remove Geelong commuters from the bottlenecks of the current line, due to the huge growth around Wyndham Vale and Tarneit.
An extension of the high-speed line further west would further help with decentralisation and encourage growth in more regional areas, he said.
“In time you feed back to Colac, and make that connect to Melbourne in an hour,” Cr Harwood said. “You then bring Colac into the whole population growth discussion and the spread of people.
“Instead of western Melbourne bring inundated as we’ve seen, and instead of Geelong exploding like we’ve seen, you can start to spread the load.”
Cr Harwood indicated that the Government would shortly announce early findings from examining high-speed rail between Geelong and Melbourne.
“There’s been a lot of work done behind the scenes that will be coming out in the near future,” he said.
The Andrews Government has budgeted $50 million to identify a preferred option and to evaluate the required upgrades and costs.
It has previously said that it will examine the potential of electrifying the existing rail corridor, and has also mooted running trains capable of travelling up to 300kmh.
The rail inquiry is being held as Avalon Airport chief executive Justin Giddings seeks a light rail connection to the airport.
His concept would see a new station built between Lara and Little River that connected to the airport terminal via a bus or light rail service.
“Instead of bringing the rail into the airport, we’re almost taking the airport into the rail line,” Mr Giddings said.
“It’s one we’re very keen to pursue.”
This article first appeared on www.geelongadvertiser.com.au
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