THE State Government has been urged to build a rail link and improve road access to Melbourne Airport.
The airport is planning a $500 million third runway, with work starting as early as 2016.
Melbourne Airport chief executive Chris Woodruff said the government needed to support the airport’s expansion with a greater commitment to improving access.
Mr Woodruff said the Skybus carried almost 2.5 million passengers a year but was often caught in traffic congestion on the Tullamarine Freeway.
He said he expected the government to give a firm commitment to a rail link to the airport when the airport released its masterplan in February or March.
While a rail link would take more than seven years to complete, widening of Tullamarine Freeway could be done within a year, he said.
Premier Ted Baillieu said the government had committed $6.5 million to a study on a rail link to the airport.
“It’s not a simple exercise to simply drop a rail link into an airport,” he said.
But Protectors of Public Lands Victoria secretary Julianne Bell questioned why the government approved the East-West road link while making no mention of a rail link to the airport.
“Why spend $10 billion plus on a roadway that is a white elephant when there is a crying need for rail lines for fast efficient public transport,” she said.
“Seventy-five per cent of cars have a single person in the car.
“Brisbane and Sydney have rail links to their airports, why is Melbourne lagging behind?”
A third runway will also mean Gladstone Park, Broadmeadows and Westmeadows would be under the flight path of the new east-west runway.
Hume Mayor Geoff Porter said the council was keen to review the details for the third runway alignment when the Melbourne Airport Draft Master Plan was released for public consultation early next year.