Business welcomes airport link but wants Metrol tunnel to come first

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Herald Sun: Business welcomes airport link but wants Metrol tunnel to come first. John Dagge. 15 April 2014

Business groups say the Metro rail tunnel should be a priority over the airport rail link. Source: HeraldSun

Business groups have welcomed the State Government’s pledge to build an airport rail link but say it should not take priority over the larger Melbourne Metro rail tunnel project.

And the government must provide details on funding and a construction deadline in the upcoming State Budget, they say.

Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief Mark Stone said the airport link should be one piece of a larger infrastructure program that gave priority to both stages of the East West Link tollway and Melbourne Metro.

“We hope this (airport rail) announcement will be part of a raft of infrastructure project funding in the upcoming State Budget,” Mr Stone told BusinessDaily.

“We have been consistent in our view that East West Link and Melbourne Metro should be Victoria’s priority major infrastructure projects, so we hope there is significant funding for these projects as well in the budget.”

Committee for Melbourne chief Kate Roffey said the group supported a dedicated airport rail link with custom carriages built for flyers.

But she told BusinessDaily a rail link to Tullamarine would not work until congestion in the City Loop was solved.

“It’s not going to work effectively until we deal with the Melbourne underground rail issue and unlocking the deadlock in the city rail loop,” she said.

Australian Industry Group Victorian director Tim Piper said it was pleasing to see a pipeline of major infrastructure spending emerging — a pipeline that would save construction jobs.

“Our big construction companies can now have some certainty of investment and projects like this mean they can maintain their workforce and continue to invest in their people,” he said.

Melbourne Airport acting chief Adam Watson said a rail link was needed given passaged numbers would double to 60 million annually over the next 20 years.

Mr Watson said the overwhelming majority of international airports that processed 30 million passengers had rail links, including London’s Heathrow and Gatwick, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney airports

“The construction of an airport rail link along with the widening of the Tullamarine freeway to three lanes between Essendon and Melbourne airports are critical projects to support growth into the future,” he said.

Mr Watson said he supported the Albion East rail alignment and the airport had provided for a rail corridor on airport land along the centre of the soon-to-be built Airport Drive.

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