Melbourne Airport Rail Link (MARL) is set to become a reality, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews signing the Heads of Agreement on the strategic objectives, governance arrangements and information-sharing processes for the A$10bn ($7bn) joint commitment.
A project team will be established to develop a full business case for the project, which will connect Melbourne Airport to the rail network for the first time and also integrate it with the Metro Tunnel and the future Suburban Rail Loop.
The route has been set to connect regional Victorians and all of Melbourne via a new super hub at Sunshine.
The Suburban Rail Loop is expected to benefit regional Victorians as the line will pass through the super-hubs at Sunshine, Broadmeadows and Clayton and also provide Victorians with better access to jobs and services.
Melbourne Airport is a key part of Victoria and Australia’s economic growth. In 2016-17, the airport handled more than 35 million passenger movements and by 2038, it is expected to almost double to over 67 million, as Victoria’s population continues to grow and demand increases.
Melbourne Airport Rail Link is expected to ease congestion on the main road connection to the airport, the Tullamarine Freeway, and unlock capacity for the growing population in Melbourne’s north-west.
Planning and development of the MARL Business Case is already underway.
Rail Projects Victoria has appointed expert technical and commercial advisers for the project. Ecological, traffic and geotechnical investigations have also commenced.
Early market engagement on the MARL has drawn applications from more than 100 local and global organisations.
Additional market sounding will be taken up to assess equity partners, private sector involvement, financing arrangements and other matters.
A reference group, including community, industry and local government representatives, will be established to provide guidance and feedback to the project team during the development of the business case.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be in the range of A$8bn ($5.6bn) to A$13bn ($9.2bn) and the state and federal governments have committed up to A$5bn ($3.5bn) each to deliver MARL.
Construction is due to commence in 2022 and it is expected to take up to nine years to be completed.
To be delivered by 2020, the business case will assess station and procurement options, value capture and creation opportunities, and economic analysis of the recommended solution.
Image: An airport rail link train in Australia. Photo: Courtesy of Victoria State Government.