Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised $5 billion for a train line to Melbourne Airport, something which has been debated since Tullamarine first opened in 1970.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said last November that construction on the rail link would be underway within the next decade, but no trains can run until the Metro Tunnel opens in 2026.
The funding pledged by Mr Turnbull will not cover the entire cost of the project, and will need to be met by a further $5 billion from the Victorian Government. The plan calls for a 50-50 funding arrangement between State and Federal governments, and proposes that the Federal government will retain a 50% ownership stake in the rail line.
A report by Clay Lucas in The Age says the Victorian government is “understood to be concerned” that Canberra will put long-term financial returns from the rail line above the needs of Melbourne's transport network. However, Mr Turnbull insists there is no politics involved, while Treasurer Scott Morrison called the proposed rail link “a project of national significance”.
Four routes are under consideration, first outlined in 2013. The Albion East link bears west through Maribyrnong, veering north towards Tullamarine after Albion. This option is thought to be preferred by the Federal Government.
The Craigieburn link bears directly north from the CBD, through Flemington to Coolaroo, before veering west towards Tullamarine.
The other two routes fall between, following an almost identical route to a point about halfway between Albion and the airport.
A study aiming to recommend a preferred route is due in September.