The Melbourne Airport rail link is now one step closer, with the Federal Government backing the Sunshine route for the project.

The Age has reported that Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population, Alan Tudge, wrote to the Victorian Government prior to going into caretaker mode, to confirm his support for the route.

Both the Labor and Coalition parties have agreed on the route. Other options under consideration included a route through Highpoint and Maribyrnong, creating a new suburban line, and using the Craigieburn line, with a spur between Essendon and Tullamarine.

A previous route options assessment undertaken by Transport for Victoria showed that of the four routes considered, the Sunshine alignment – previously known as the Albion East alignment – was the Victorian Government’s preferred route for the project.

The Sunshine Route will see trains travel to the airport from the CBD via a new Sunshine Super Hub, which will connect regional and metro train lines – including the Metro Tunnel – to the new airport link.

This new transport hub will also pave the way for fast regional rail services from Geelong and Ballarat, connected to Melbourne Airport, via just one change.

From Sunshine, trains will head north, utilising both the Albion East rail reserve and sections of tunnel to protect homes and businesses, before connecting in to Melbourne Airport.

The rigorous new analysis produced as part of initial work on the Airport Rail Link Business Case shows that the Sunshine Route rated 4.3 out of five overall in the comparative analysis of routes, with a total cost in the range of $8-13 billion.

According to the ABC, the new service, running from the city to the airport via the new, “Southern Cross-style” Sunshine station, could be up and running within nine years, with construction to start in late 2020.

Earlier in 2018, the AirRail Melbourne consortium, involving IFM Investors, Melbourne Airport, Metro Trains Australia and Southern Cross Station, announced it would contribute $5 billion to the project, giving it the final go-ahead.

The state and federal governments have also pledged contributions of $5 billion each.

The project will comprise 27km of new track and twin rail tunnels, and will support 12,000 jobs each year during construction.

The service will operate 24 hours per day and reduce regional travel time into the city by ten minutes.

More to come.

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