“If the Victorian Government wants to make decisions that unlocks the potential of Regional Victoria and helps ease population pressures on Melbourne, then they must commit to build the rail tunnel between Sunshine and Southern Cross stations,” says Committee for Ballarat CEO Michael Poulton and City of Ballarat Councillor Samantha McIntosh.
The City of Ballarat and Committee for Ballarat are urging the state and federal governments to work collaboratively to build the infrastructure that will deliver a modern rail network for rail commuters.
Such a network will encourage the development of Regional Victoria and helps provide the solution to Melbourne’s population growth – and it all begins with a tunnel between Southern Cross and Sunshine.
Mr Poulton says fast regional rail is a ‘game changer’ for Ballarat and the other key regional Victorian cities.
“The reports in The Age over the weekend again suggest the Victoria Treasurer Tim Pallas has ‘hosed down expectations’ for a tunnel as part of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link,” Mr Poulton says.
Cr McIntosh says without this tunnel, genuinely fast regional rail is not possible and with that goes the unique opportunity to genuinely connect Melbourne with the regional cities of Ballarat, Geelong, Bendigo and Shepparton.
“The tunnel between Southern Cross and Sunshine, committed as part of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link (MARL), is the only way to achieve fast rail through the most heavily congested corridor in inner Melbourne,” says Cr McIntosh.
“Without a Tunnel, fast, reliable and frequent services to and from the CBD to the airport cannot be achieved and without a tunnel, fast, reliable and frequent services for regional cities to and from Melbourne, cannot be achieved. Without this tunnel, regional rail and the MARL will be forever compromised”.
Mr Poulton says in early September, Daniel Andrews stood with Scott Morrison and ruled out “stopping at all stations” airport trains. He said: “you’ve got to build something people will use” and they won’t use a system that is compromised.
“A tunnel between Southern Cross and Sunshine will deliver an express service to the airport from the CBD and accommodate regional rail. Whilst the key piece of infrastructure is the tunnel, fast reliable and frequent services to and from Melbourne, Ballarat and Geelong, also requires duplication of tracks beyond Sunshine and the electrification of the Metro network to Melton,” Mr Poulton says.
“De‐coupling the Metro system from V/Line through the growth centres on the western fringe of Melbourne is also required to fully deliver a modern commuter‐style service for public transport that will allow people to choose the train over the car”.
Cr McIntosh says the City of Ballarat, together with Committee for Ballarat and Commerce Ballarat, fully supports Federal Minister Alan Tudge who says: “We want to see the Melbourne Airport Rail Link built as soon as possible.” (Melbourne Age, 25 Oct: Timna Jacks)
“With commitments from the Commonwealth Government and a $5 billion bid from the private consortium AirRail as part of their investment in the MARL, the State Government just needs to come good on its commitment prior to the last election of $5 billion and the project would be fully funded,” Mr Poulton and Cr McIntosh said.