Dedicated Airport Rail link only option to deliver $200b boost to Victoria

31 July 2020

A new report has revealed fast regional rail services will deliver a $200 billion boost to the Victorian economy, but it all hinges on a tunnel being the preferred option for Melbourne’s Airport Rail Link.

The Stronger, Together report, released Wednesday, assessed a proposal to upgrade the VLine network to boost train speeds to 200km/h between Melbourne and larger regional centres.

It found the upgrades would significantly cut travel times, double capacity and provide a massive boost to the state’s economy by 2060 – but only if the Airport Rail Link is on its own dedicated line.

Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said the worsening pressure of the coronavirus pandemic meant we must look at every opportunity to strengthen our state’s economy in the future.

“Country people deserve a fast, reliable and modern rail service, but this report shows that if Labor pushes ahead with its plan to use existing tracks regional rail services will only get worse,” Ms Ryan said.

“Fast rail will be a game-changer for regional Victoria, but it can only happen if a dedicated line is built as part of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.

“The coronavirus pandemic is changing the way we live and work. Planning for a stronger future for regional Victoria will help to build confidence as we strive to get Victorians back to work and back in business.”

The report was commissioned by the Stronger Together Alliance, a group of regional city councils, universities and regional business and community leaders who are advocating for massive upgrades to country rail services.

Ms Ryan said fast rail to regions remained a key priority for The Nationals.

“We will only have one opportunity to get the airport rail link right,” Ms Ryan said.

“Regional services will be forever stuck stopping all stations behind metro trains if Labor goes ahead with the cheaper option of using existing tracks.

“Regional train passengers will never forgive Labor for the long delays and unreliable services if it refuses to commit to a dedicated airport rail.”

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