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PASSENGERS on the long-mooted Melbourne Airport train would arrive next to the main terminal building at an elevated station under plans being investigated.
Airport chiefs and Public Transport Victoria are in discussions about three options for the final section of the rail line, which would enter airport land at the end of the 25-minute journey.
All options are for above-ground stations, and could include building over the airport’s long-term carpark to get “as close to the main terminal as possible” to boost passenger convenience.
Although building an underground route that would finish beneath terminals is also possible, that option looks like being shelved because of high costs.
Melbourne Airport chief executive Chris Woodruff has strongly backed the State Government’s pledge to build a rail line and believes it needs bipartisan support.
In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Herald Sun, he also called for purpose-built trains and more frequent services than proposed.
“The airport rail link should also be easy for passengers to use and, include having luggage-friendly rolling stock and a service that runs at 10-minute intervals around the clock,” he said.
Mr Woodruff said air travel passenger growth meant an alternative to road-based travel was needed, and that the new Airport Drive would include space for rail. “We are getting ready for a rail link to Melbourne Airport,” he said.
“Our new Airport Drive, which will be open by mid next year, will have space for two tracks down the middle.
“We’re also looking at station locations and aim to narrow our current three options down to one within the next 18 months. We want to have the station as close to the main terminal as possible, to make it as easy and convenient for passengers as we can.”
The Napthine Government has promised to start building the train line in its next term if it is re-elected. Labor has not ruled out the project, but has not included it in its transport blueprint for next term.
Mr Woodruff said both sides should commit to the project and get it built as soon as possible.
If growth continues at almost 5 per cent a year up to the mid-2020s, Mr Woodruff said the airport would be catering for 50 million passengers a year. This meant that even if 15 per cent of those passengers were to switch to rail-based travel to the airport, roads to the airport would still have to deal with an extra 7.5 million cars on them compared with today.
“We welcomed the recent State Government funding commitment for a rail link and believe there is bipartisan support for the Melbourne Airport rail link as it is a good move for Victoria,” Mr Woodruff said. “We will continue to work with the State Government to make an airport rail link a reality.”
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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