$11bn “Super Train” proposed for Melbourne

A private consortium has put forward a plan for a rail link to Melbourne airport, a US$10.8bn scheme that was approved by Canberra in April of this year.

The AirRail Melbourne consortium, which is made up of primarily of institutional investors and transport operators, is offering to pay a third of the cost of the link. The remainder of the money will be met equally by the state government of Victoria and the Australian federal government.

AirRail described its plan as a "Super Train" that would "connect the entire Victorian rail network with the airport, cut road congestion in Melbourne’s west and north and complement the Metro Tunnel and proposed Suburban Rail Loop projects.

The plan would involve laying 27km of new track and boring tunnels between the Southern Cross station in the city’s Docklands and Sunshine station in the western suburbs.

It would also involve a new interchange at Southern Cross and a redevelopment of Sunshine, which would become a hub for suburban, airport and regional passengers.

There would also be a new metro station at the airport, designed by UK firm Grimshaw Architects, which is also involved in the expansion of the airport’s Terminal 2 international arrivals hall.

The final system would offer a departure every 10 minutes, and a travel time from end to end of 20 minutes.

The consortium comprises the IFM Investors superannuation fund, the Australia Pacific Airports Corporation, which runs Melbourne Airport, Metro Trains Australia and Southern Cross Station.

Brett Himbury, IFM Investors chief executive, said: "Our ‘Super Train’ investment proposal represents a significant opportunity for 7 million Australians to invest in a nation-building project through their superannuation funds.

"A partnership between the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments demonstrates the universal support for this essential project which has transformed talk of a Melbourne Airport Rail Link into a viable project that drives productivity for the nation."

The proposal follows a comment from Daniel Andrews, the Labor premier of Victoria, that there would be a "stampede from the private sector" to be involved in the airport rail scheme, as well as the state’s suburban rail projects.

Image: Grimshaw’s design for the airport metro (AirRail Melbourne)

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